• The Great Repeal Bill White Paper Published
  • May 10, 2017
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • The UK Government has published a White Paper on The Great Repeal Bill, detailing the government's approach to converting existing EU law into UK domestic law post separation. It has also published a guidance document that emphasises that giving maximum legal certainty to businesses, workers and investors is a priority as the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. The White Paper confirms that EU law will be converted into domestic law on the date the United Kingdom formally leaves the European Union. Once EU law has been transferred into domestic UK law, Parliament will be able to amend, repeal or improve any piece of European Union law, including those relating to free movement rights.

    The United Kingdom’s Departure from the EU Outlined

    The White Paper, entitled ‘Legislating for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union’, confirms that the Bill will repeal the European Communities Act, converting EU law into domestic law on the date the United Kingdom formally leaves the European Union. No changes will take effect prior to that date.

    By ‘cutting and pasting’ EU law into domestic law in this way, current free movement rights would continue following the United Kingdom’s separation from the European Union. Any change to free movement and the rights of EU nationals post separation will require further UK Parliamentary legislation.

    In parallel with the passage of the Bill, the Government will engage in negotiations with the European Union to reach agreement on issues that affect businesses. This includes prioritising a reciprocal arrangement for EU citizens living in the United Kingdom, and UK citizens living in the European Union.

    What is Next

    The Bill will now proceed through Parliament for approval before becoming law, in parallel with the UK exit negotiations with the European Union and other legislation associated with the United Kingdom’s withdrawal.

    What This Means For Employers

    There will be no immediate change to the rights and status of EU nationals in the United Kingdom as a result of the separation. Existing free movement legal rights will continue to be guaranteed in UK law. EU nationals resident in or moving to the United Kingdom, as well as British nationals living in Europe, will continue to benefit from free movement provisions until such time as they are amended through new UK legislation requiring the consent of Parliament.

    The Prime Minister has been clear that securing the future status of EU nationals currently in the United Kingdom and UK nationals currently in the European Union is a priority for negotiations and has committed to give businesses the time and support they need to prepare, rather than implementing any sudden changes.