So… what is the Political Declaration?
The declaration is part of the EU withdrawal treaty negotiated by the government – an agreement between the UK and the EU which sets out their understanding of the framework for the future relationship between the two.
What does it say?
It acknowledges that the UK and the EU share the same core values and will remain committed to The European Convention on Human Rights (signed by the UK in 1951 – the convention arose from the horrors and injustices of the Second World War).
Both the UK and the EU are committed to high levels of personal data protection to facilitate data flows between the two.
The parties aim to include in any agreement the UK’s continuing participation in various EU programs for science and innovation, space, overseas development, defence capabilities and so on.
It envisages a UK/EU trading relationship of goods on the basis of a free trade agreement, like the one between Canada and the EU.
Both parties are looking to establish administrative cooperation in regard to customs, VAT, exchange of information to combat fraud, going beyond World Trade Organisation requirements so that we can continue to trade very closely.
Each will also seek to establish a close security cooperation. For example, we are looking to be able to exchange data regarding DNA, fingerprints, vehicle registration, cooperate on exchange of information to tackle crime and money laundering and counter-terrorism and to end the anonymity associated with the use of virtual currencies.
In terms of a future co-operation, the political declaration envisages the possibility of the UK and the EU forming an association agreement. This type of agreement is defined in the European treaties and it provides for the European Union and a non-EU country (which the UK will be after withdrawal) to have “an association involving reciprocal rights and obligations, common action and special procedures.”
At the moment the EU has at least 20 association agreements with its neighbours. For example, there is an association agreement between the EU and Ukraine. The EU sees an association agreement as a privilege for the non-EU member. They were originally created by the EU to prepare non-member countries for accessions. These association agreements typically contain a free trade agreement, access to the single market (with the non-EU country sharing the relevant EU regulations) and opportunities to cooperate in areas of mutual interest.