On 2 February 2017 the Government published a White Paper “The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union”. Essentially, it was a re-statement of the 12 principles, set out by the Prime Minister on 17 January, which will guide the Government during the implementation of the EU referendum result. However there were some additional points.
For the first time there was an acknowledgement that “There are a number of EU agencies, such as the European Medicines Agency (EMA)… which have been established to support EU Member States and their citizens. These can be responsible for enforcing particular regulatory regimes, or for pooling knowledge and information sharing. As part of exit negotiations the Government will discuss with the EU and Member States our future status and arrangements with regard to these agencies.” (Para 8.42)
There is a more explicit statement than previously that there will be a transitional phase after March 2019, although the details for industry sectors are unclear:
“From that point onwards [2019}, we believe a phased process of implementation, in which the UK, the EU institutions and Member States prepare for the new arrangements that will exist between us, will be in our mutual interest. This will give businesses enough time to plan and prepare for those new arrangements.” (Para 12.2)
Immigration and professional staff
There is nothing new on immigration, although the following are worth noting as a formal expression of intent:
“In future, therefore, the Free Movement Directive will no longer apply and the migration of EU nationals will be subject to UK law….The UK will always welcome genuine students and those with the skills and expertise to make our nation better still” (Paras 5.4 and 5.7)
The point appears well-taken by the Government that leaving the European Union could cause serious problems for the UK science base. The White Paper repeats the Chancellor’s science promises made in his Autumn Statement of 23 November as well as those by the Prime Minister on 17 January.
The White Paper also states that:
“Building Our Industrial Strategy, published on 23 January,… set out proposals to capitalise on the UK’s strategic strengths, and to make sure that we do more to commercialise the world-leading ideas and discoveries made in Britain. It will put the UK and our companies at the forefront of innovation, developing new products and services that address the challenges of the future…. We are engaging widely with sector representatives to ensure a smooth transition to future arrangements. For example, the Government has established a High Level Stakeholder Working Group on EU Exit, Universities, Research and Innovation, which includes a number of senior representatives of UK research and innovation funders, Higher Education Institutions, national academies and learned societies and business. This group will work with the Government to ensure that the UK builds on its strong global position in research and innovation excellence.” (Paras 10.6-10.8)