The process of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU has presented and will continue in the coming years and decades to present many challenges. One important question is what will happen to all of the international agreements to which the UK is party, or of which it enjoys the benefits, by virtue of its membership of the EU. Those international agreements cover areas as diverse as air services, citizens’ rights, land transportation, nuclear cooperation, (political) partnerships, and trade. They also take different forms: they comprise both “EU-only” agreements (negotiated and concluded by the EU alone in areas of its exclusive competence) and “mixed” agreements (concluded by the EU and its Member States in the fields of shared competence). As the UK inches closer to “exit day”, and the EU and the UK prepare for signature and ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, this discussion will explore how the Withdrawal Agreement provides for the continuation of these international agreements vis-à-vis the UK during the “transition or implementation period” (IP), and what will happen to them after the IP has come to an end. It will also consider some of the other key features of the Withdrawal Agreement from the perspective of international law, including: the UK’s ability to negotiate, sign and ratify international agreements during the IP; the role of the Joint Committee established by the Withdrawal Agreement; and the provisions regarding the resolution of disputes that may arise between the UK and the EU. Finally, it will explore some specific issues that arise in relation to a set of international agreements not directly provided for by the Withdrawal Agreement – intra-EU investment treaties – in the context of the UK’s departure from the EU.
Laura Rees-Evans is a Senior Associate at Fietta LLP, a specialist boutique law firm dedicated to public international law. Her practice focuses on contentious and non-contentious aspects of public international law and international arbitration. Laura acts for both claimant investors and respondent States in complex and high-value international investment arbitrations, as well as in inter-State and commercial proceedings. She has advised clients on a wide range of public international law issues (including State responsibility, statehood and sovereignty issues, international human rights law, the law of the sea, and treaty interpretation). Laura frequently delivers training courses to officials of State clients and other institutions on topics of public international law. In the six months leading up to the UK’s original scheduled departure date from the EU (March 2019), Laura spent six months on secondment to the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office, where she was advising the British Government on public international law issues arising out of Brexit. Laura has continued to focus on, and has widely written and spoken on such issues, since her return to Fietta LLP.
Laura is a founding board member of the Young Public International Law Group, a network of public international law practitioners from law firms, the bar, international organisations, governments and academic institutions around the world. Laura holds a BA and MA in Jurisprudence with Law Studies in Italy (first class honours) from the University of Oxford and an LLM in International Legal Studies from New York University.
The PIL Discussion Group hosts a weekly speaker event and light lunch and is a key focal point for PIL@Oxford. Topics involve contemporary and challenging issues in international law. Speakers include distinguished international law practitioners, academics, and legal advisers from around the world.
The group typically meets each Thursday during Oxford terms in The Old Library, All Souls College, with lunch commencing at 12:30. The speaker will commence at 12:45 and speak for about forty minutes, allowing about twenty five minutes for questions and discussion. The meeting should conclude before 2:00. Practitioners, academics and students from within and outside the University of Oxford are all welcome. No RSVP is necessary. Join the PIL Email List to receive information about the PIL Discussion Group meetings, as well as other PIL@Oxford news.
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Convenors of the Oxford Public International Law Discussion Group are: Hannes Jöbstl and Tsvetelina van Benthem
The discussion group's meetings are part of the programme of the British Branch of the International Law Association and are supported by the Law Faculty and Oxford University Press.