UK competition law beyond the withdrawal – Part I & II
by Becket McGrath
Since the moment that the result of the UK’s referendum on EU membership in June 2016 was announced, there has been significant uncertainty over when the UK would leave the EU, whether the terms for departure could be agreed in time to avoid a “no deal” exit and even whether Brexit would happen at all. The first part focused on the competition law provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement. These provisions confirm the continued application of EU competition law in the UK during the Brexit transition period, which is currently due to end on 31 December 2020 These uncertainties were ultimately resolved sufficiently to enable Brexit to take place on 31 January 2020.
The second part goes beyond the Withdrawal Agreement which also provides for the continued jurisdiction in the UK of the European Commission and Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) after the end of the transition period for certain matters, including competition investigations that are ongoing at that point and related appeals. Finally, the Northern Ireland Protocol to the Agreement provides for indefinite Commission jurisdiction to supervise UK state aid measures with a potential to affect trade between Northern Ireland and the EU. Assuming that the UK abides by its international law obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement, these aspects of the relationship are now fixed. As a result, the only major area of uncertainty regarding the transition period is whether it will be extended.