Political Declaration on the framework for the UK-EU future relationship

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The UK and EU have published a Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom. It sits alongside the draft text of the Withdrawal Agreement. Both documents are due to be agreed at an emergency European Council summit on 25 November 2018.

This declaration is not legally binding but will set the direction of the future relationship negotiations, which are expected to begin once the UK has formally left the EU in March 2019.

The table below summarises what it says, whether it is compatible with the Chequers white paper and the European Council’s guidelines for the negotiations on the ‘future framework’.

Economic partnership | Security partnership | Cross-cutting 


Economic partnership


What does it say?

What does it mean?

Compatible with Chequers?

Compatible with EU guidelines?


Commitment to an ‘as close as possible’ trading relationship, with mention of a comprehensive free trade area, deep regulatory and customs cooperation and level playing field.

Commits to ‘build on the single customs territory’ in the Irish backstop, but also mentions using technology and customs facilitations to remove friction.

Confirms both sides will be ‘separate markets’ and different entities for animal and plant health. Does suggest the UK could ‘align with EU rules’ in relevant areas and the two sides would explore possibility of UK cooperation with EU agencies – such as in medicines, chemicals and aviation.

Implies that trade between the UK and EU will not be frictionless, but the extent of checks will depend upon the extent of divergence by the UK.

There are confusing statements about the extent to which future customs arrangements will build on the customs union commitment within the backstop or be based on technology.

Both wish to remove friction. Technology being ‘considered’ with regards to the Irish border could be important for some MPs.

Mostly. The UK and EU seek a relationship that has no tariffs or other quantitative restrictions. The Facilitated Customs Arrangement is still a possibility.

There is no common rulebook on goods, although elements of alignment could reappear.

Yes, though Northern Ireland might have to stay in line with some Single Market rules.

Liberalisation “well beyond WTO” builds on recent EU free trade agreements.

Market access and national treatment under host state rules. Aims to allow ‘temporary entry’ for people on business.

Voluntary regulatory cooperation and “good regulatory practices”, with “appropriate arrangements” for mutual recognition of professional qualifications.

Individual services chapters to be negotiated but commits to preserving regulatory autonomy for both parties.

Yes, Chequers does not ask for Single Market participation in services.

Financial services

Based on equivalence decisions.

Hope to get decisions in place by the end of June 2020.

Normal third country treatment.

Doesn’t close the possibility of further enhancement but it doesn’t offer it either.

Not quite. Chequers looked for enhanced equivalence with more protection.


Facilitation of cross border ecommerce and data flows.

Both sides to share information and best practice regarding regulating new technologies. 

Allows trade in digital services and other services dependent on data flows to continue, without the UK joining the Digital Single Market.


Not covered in the guidelines.

UK to be an independent coastal state.

New fisheries agreement on access and quota shares.

Aim to ratify new fisheries agreement by 1 July 2020 so that it can be used to determine fishing opportunities for the first year after transition.

UK leaves the Common Fisheries Policy.


Yes, at least as far as we know before any new fisheries agreement is reached.

EU guidelines linked agreement on fish specifically to future trade deal. Guidelines called for existing reciprocal access to fishing waters to be maintained.

Issue left open in the Withdrawal Agreement.


Comprehensive air transport agreement.

“Comparable market access” for road transport operators.

Bilateral arrangements for cross-border rail services.

Connectivity in the maritime transport sector to be based on international law.

Transport services to be largely covered in separate agreements.

Not quite – falls short of request for UK to stay part of European Air Safety Agency, but that is not explicitly ruled out.


Technical cooperation between electricity and gas networks operators and organisations.

Wide-ranging Nuclear Cooperation Agreement with the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).

Cooperation on carbon pricing by linking a UK national greenhouse gas emissions trading system with the EU Emissions Trading System.

Basis for talks on cooperation.

Includes prospect for technical cooperation on energy and gas infrastructure through new framework.

Agreement to cooperate with Euratom as a third country to be negotiated.

Also includes prospect for cooperation on carbon pricing by linking the future UK system to the EU one.


Level playing field

Covers state aid, competition, social and environmental standards, climate change and tax, building on the Withdrawal Agreement.

Adequate mechanisms to ensure effective domestic implementation, enforcement and dispute settlement.

UK is committing to level playing field provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement, this agreement assumes similar levels of commitments. .

No explanation of how standards will be monitored and enforced.

Yes, the Chequers white paper envisaged alignment on competition and state aid and promised no regression on other areas (except tax where the UK made no commitment). Worth noting that the UK made these commitments expecting ‘frictionless trade’ in return Yes, the EU had expected to get more power in enforcing these commitments.
Intellectual property

Both sides to ensure protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, going beyond the World Trade Organization (WTO) standards and World Intellectual Property Organisation conventions.

Protections for geographical indications to be negotiated.

Intellectual property rights chapter to be negotiated – prospect to maintain current high levels of protection of certain rights under copyright law, and artists resale rights. 

Specifies arrangements to protect geographical indications (such as feta cheese and Champagne) will also need to be negotiated

Yes, although geographical indications are yet to be agreed. Yes.
Public procurement

The UK and EU want to go beyond what they are obliged to do under the WTO Government Procurement Agreement.

The UK and EU should commit to procurement standards and make remedies before judicial authorities available.

This is an opening position for future negotiations, without a specific aim besides going beyond commitments their WTO commitments (which the UK is currently negotiating). Not really – Chequers focuses on the UK’s international options on procurement. Yes, but goes further with a brief mention as area that could be negotiated.

End of freedom of movement, but both sides will ‘aim to provide’ visa-free travel.

UK not able to discriminate between member states.

Arrangements on temporary entry for business.

Specific schemes covering research, study, training and youth exchanges, as well as social security coordination to be negotiated.

Standard provisions for services. Visa-free travel for short-term visits to be agreed.

The EU will be looking for the UK to offer the same mobility provisions to all EU countries.

This would be similar to the arrangements between UK and Australia.

Yes, very similar to the UK’s proposal. Yes.



Security partnership


What does it say?

What does it mean?

Compatible with Chequers?

Compatible with EU guidelines?

Law enforcement and judicial cooperation

Current proposals are based on the UK’s commitment to the role of ECJ in interpreting EU law as well as the European Convention on Human Rights and data protection.

Reciprocal exchanges of passenger data, DNA, fingerprints and vehicle registration data under Prüm.

Exchange of information on wanted or missing persons and of criminal records, approximating EU mechanisms.

UK cooperation in Europol and Eurojust.

Swift and effective extradition arrangements.

Arrangements for practical cooperation, like Joint Investigation Teams, approximating EU mechanisms.

Cooperation on tackling money laundering and terrorist financing.

No access to tools that are restricted to EU member states and Schengen countries, e.g. European Arrest Warrant , Schengen Information System  and European Criminal Record Information System . The one exception is Prüm – no other non-Schengen country is part of this.

Alternative arrangements  to be developed.

Access to PNR data going beyond previous third country agreements.

Terms of co-operation through EU agencies; Joint Investigation Teams still be confirmed.


Yes, on PNR and Prüm.


Not clear on Europol, Eurojust, and Joint Investigation Teams. No mention of the European Investigation Order for mutual legal assistance.

Foreign policy, security and defence

Structured consultation and regular thematic dialogues – particularly on sanctions, with possibility of coordination.

Diplomatic cooperation in third countries and international organisations

Cooperation on external action and some Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions

Collaboration on relevant European Defence Agency programmes, and some European Defence Fund  and Permanent Structured Cooperation projects.

Exchange intelligence, especially on counter-terrorism, hybrid threats and cyber-threats.

‘Appropriate arrangements’ on space cooperation.

Will establish a dialogue on development.

UK stays closely involved, going beyond third country precedents in places.

Continues to participate in EU operations on a case-by-case basis.

EU-UK dialogue continues across issues.

UK industry to collaborate with EU partners in capability development where appropriate.

Yes, in terms of dialogue and flexible approach, maximising operational capability while respecting autonomy of both parties.

Galileo not explicitly addressed.

Other security coopeartoin

Close cooperation on cyber security,

Civil protection in disaster and health security, illegal immigration and counter-terrorism. 

UK and EU will continue to work together on security issues in Europe, third countries, and sharing information and best practice.

Yes, extremely close to Chequers, although no mention of specific tools the UK wants to access (e.g. Eurodac)

Classified and sensitive non-classified information

Security of Information Agreement to be negotiated on the handling and protection of classified and sensitive non-classified information.

Supports timely exchange of intelligence underpinning other elements of security partnership.





Cross-cutting issues


What does it say?

What does it mean?

Compatible with Chequers?

Compatible with EU guidelines?

Institutional structure

“Overarching institutional framework” which could take the form of an association agreement. There is scope for more specific institutional arrangements covering individual areas.

There should include a possibility to review the relationship.

Suggests a model for the framework, drawing on the Ukraine-style approach.

Makes clear the relationship can evolve.

Yes, Chequers proposed a governance framework which could be an association agreement.

Not addressed.

Structures to set direction; processes for dispute resolution set out in the Withdrawal Agreement as the basis for the future relationship

Supports a relationship between the European Parliament and UK Parliament.

Adds supervision to the list alongside management, implementation and development.

Yes, but goes a bit further.

Not addressed.
Core values and rights

UK to continue to respect European Convention on Human Rights as part of wider ongoing commitment on both sides to human rights, democratic principles, and rule of law.

The UK will remain bound by the European Convention on Human Rights, but not the more wide-ranging Charter of Fundamental Rights (CFR).

Yes, but the Government had previously said it would attempt to break away from the ECHR, Chequers saw a u-turn on this.

Data protection

Commission will start data adequacy assessment for UK as soon as possible after withdrawal, with a view to concluding before end of transition.

Arrangements to be made for ‘appropriate’ cooperation between data protection regulators.

The EU is not willing to negotiate an agreement offering anything beyond a standard ‘adequacy’ agreement. The intention to ensure a decision is reached before end of transition to avoid disruption is positive.

Detail of regulatory cooperation still to be agreed.

Not really. Chequers proposed going beyond a typical data adequacy decision.

Participation in EU programmes

General principles, terms and conditions for UK participation in EU programmes to be agreed.

Will ‘explore’ UK participation in European Research Infrastructure Consortiums (ERICs).

Funding proportions for a future PEACE PLUS programme in NI to be maintained.

EU open to UK participation in programmes under certain conditions – including financial contributions



Global cooperation

Continued cooperation in international forums (like the G7 and G20).

Specific commitments to international agreements especially on climate.

Early indication of areas where EU and UK may want to make common cause in international forums.



Should engage in dialogue in areas of shared interest.

Notes UK desire for future relationship with the European Investment Bank.

Does not confirm that options for future relationship with European Investment Bank will be explored – just notes that UK wants to explore them.


Forward process

Formal negotiations to start as soon after UK has left as possible, making best endeavours to conclude by Dec 2020.

But before UK’s withdrawal, will start preparatory work which will include drawing up a schedule identifying most challenging areas, for example, alternative arrangements to the Irish backstop.

High-level conference once every six months to take stock of progress.

Both parties agree the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement must be protected.

As expected – but the Withdrawal Agreement makes a provision for UK to request a one-off extension. Not covered. Not covered.


Update date: 
Thursday, November 22, 2018