The purpose of this article is to examine the objectives pursued by the European Union (EU) in crafting its future relationship with the United Kingdom (UK) after Brexit. As the article argues, the withdrawal of the UK from the EU created an unprecedented situation – namely that of a former Member State. In response to this unique state of affairs, the EU has deliberately and consistently endeavoured to develop with the UK as a new third country an ambitious partnership, going beyond trade to encompass many other areas of cooperation, spanning from internal and external security to sectoral themes such as the fight against climate change and health. As the article suggests, the EU’s approach vis-à-vis the UK emerges already in the negotiating guidelines, adopted in the aftermath of the UK notification of its intention to leave the EU; is codified in the non-binding Political Declaration outlining the framework of future EU-UK relations, attached to the Withdrawal Agreement; and is ultimately reflected to some extent in the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement reached between the parties on Christmas Eve 2020. Although this thin deal does not fully achieve the objectives of the EU, as some areas are not covered by the new EU-UK treaty, its scope, which goes beyond trade, confirms the ambition of the EU to lock-in relationship with a close, special neighbour like the UK.
European Public Law – Kluwer Law International
Published: Jul 1, 2021