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UK – EU Negotiations: Where are we (22 Oct 2020) ?

The deadline stated by Boris Johnson (16 October 202) for an outline Free Trade agreement with the EU, has come and gone.

Further “intensive” negotiations were put on hold following conclusions adopted by the EU Council at the meeting held on 15 and 16 October 2020 which included the statement:

Against this background, the European Council invites the Union’s chief negotiator to continue negotiations in the coming weeks, and calls on the UK to make the necessary moves to make an agreement possible.

The UK response was to state:

…and given that they have refused to negotiate seriously for much of the last few months, and given that this summit appears explicitly to rule out a Canada-style deal, I have concluded that we should get ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia’s based on simple principles of global free trade…

Having paused the negotiations has anything changed since then? Recent statements by the UK Government, indicate that talks will resume from 22 October 2020

We have studied carefully the statement by Michel Barnier to the European Parliament this morning. As the EU’s Chief Negotiator his words are authoritative.

The Prime Minister and Michael Gove have both made clear in recent days that a fundamental change in approach was needed from the EU from that shown in recent weeks.

They made clear that the EU had to be serious about talking intensively, on all issues, and bringing the negotiation to a conclusion. They were also clear that the EU had to accept once again that it was dealing with an independent and sovereign country and that any agreement would need to be consistent with that status.

We welcome the fact that Mr Barnier acknowledged both points this morning, and additionally that movement would be needed from both sides in the talks if agreement was to be reached. As he made clear, “any future agreement will be made in respect of the decision-making autonomy of the European Union and with respect for British sovereignty”.

Lord Frost discussed the implications of this statement and the state of play with Mr Barnier earlier today. On the basis of that conversation we are ready to welcome the EU team to London to resume negotiations later this week. We have jointly agreed a set of principles for handling this intensified phase of talks.

As to the substance, we note that Mr Barnier set out the principles that the EU has brought to this negotiation, and that he also acknowledged the UK’s established red lines. It is clear that significant gaps remain between our positions in the most difficult areas, but we are ready, with the EU, to see if it is possible to bridge them in intensive talks. For our part, we remain clear that the best and most established means of regulating the relationship between two sovereign and autonomous parties is one based on a free trade agreement.

As both sides have made clear, it takes two to reach an agreement. It is entirely possible that negotiations will not succeed. If so, the UK will end the transition period on Australia terms and will prosper in doing so.

It is essential now that UK businesses, hauliers, and travellers prepare actively for the end of the transition period, since change is coming, whether an agreement is reached or not.

From: Statement on further UK-EU negotiations: 21 October 2020

The “principles” for negotiations to continue “intensified” talks state:

The following principles for further negotiations have been agreed by the Chief Negotiators of the United Kingdom and the European Commission.

1. The parties have agreed to intensify negotiations. Talks will take place across all negotiating tables concurrently. Negotiations will take place daily including weekends, unless both sides agree otherwise.

2. This next and final phase of the negotiations will in principle be on the basis of each side’s legal texts while a common approach is found, unless lead negotiators in an individual workstream agree that a different approach is more appropriate.

3. Lead negotiators in each of the workstreams should move as quickly as possible to a read through of both texts, with a view to identification of areas of convergence, which could be expressed either in a two/three-column table or consolidated texts depending on which tool lead negotiators deem most appropriate.

4. A small joint secretariat will be established to hold a master consolidated text. This will be staffed by officials and lawyers from both parties. The joint secretariat will establish a methodology for managing the legal texts, in consultation with the lead negotiators of each workstream.

5. This textual process should be accompanied by discussions in the workstreams on the outstanding more political issues, including the most difficult ones such as LPF, governance, fisheries, energy and goods/services provisions.

6. As has been the case in recent weeks, the Chief Negotiators and / or Deputy Chief Negotiators from both parties should meet in a restricted format, according to need. This group should have regard to the overall progress of the negotiations, consider issues escalated from the workstreams from the negotiation tables, give direction to workstream leads, and deal with the most sensitive political issues in the talks. This group should meet every day.

7. It is understood that, regardless of progress in individual workstreams, nothing is agreed in these negotiations until a final overall agreement is reached.

8. The initial phase of the negotiations will take place in London from 22 October until 25 October.

9. Thereafter the negotiations should take place in person in London and Brussels, or via teleconference, or a mix of the two, as agreed by both parties.

10. In managing the locations and logistics of this phase of the negotiation, both parties will give due regard to the evolving Covid-19 situation, the practicalities of travel, and, in particular, the different levels of risk in both London and Brussels. They will prioritise their duty of care to the individuals in negotiating teams on both sides and make appropriate decisions on the basis of evidence as the final stages of the negotiation move forwards.

From: Organising principles for further negotiations with the EU

It would be interesting to see copies of these documents – are they the same as previously issued ?

“…This next and final phase of the negotiations will in principle be on the basis of each side’s legal texts…”

A Draft Legal text from the European Union was issued on 18 March 2020:

Draft text of the Agreement on the New Partnership with the United Kingdom

( also here: 200318-draft-agreement-gen )

other EU documents at:

(European Union) Guide to the negotiations

Draft Legal texts were first issued by the UK in June 2020:

EU Trade Negotiations – UK Documents

How much of the original documents will end up in the final “agreed” document ? (I’m guessing the majority of the EU document!!)

References:

Here is a reference to the speech made by Michel Barnier to the European Union Parliament:

Discours de Michel Barnier en séance plénière du Parlement européen

and a “Google” Translation available at

Barnier 211020 (txt)

(I’m unclear as to what exactly the European Union negotiators have conceded towards the UK in this speech in order for the UK to have agreed to proceed with further negotiations – Editor).

PM statement on negotiations with the EU: 16 October 2020

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a statement on negotiations with the EU. (16 October 2020)

Good morning,

We left the EU on January 31 and delivered on the largest democratic mandate in the history of this country.

And since then we have been in a transition period obeying EU law, paying our fees – as a non-voting member – working on the future relationship we hope to enjoy with our friends and partners from January.

And from the outset we were totally clear that we wanted nothing more complicated than a Canada-style relationship, based on friendship and free trade.

To judge by the latest EU summit in Brussels that won’t work for our EU partners. They want the continued ability to control our legislative freedom, our fisheries, in a way that is obviously unacceptable to an independent country.

And since we have only ten weeks until the end of the transition period on January 1, I have to make a judgement about the likely outcome and to get us all ready.

And given that they have refused to negotiate seriously for much of the last few months, and given that this summit appears explicitly to rule out a Canada-style deal, I have concluded that we should get ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia’s based on simple principles of global free trade.

And we can do it, because we always knew that there would be change on January 1 whatever type of relationship we had.

And so now is the time for our businesses to get ready, and for hauliers to get ready, and for travellers to get ready.

And of course we are willing to discuss the practicalities with our friends where a lot of progress has already been made, by the way, on such issues as social security, and aviation, nuclear cooperation and so on.

But for whatever reason it is clear from the summit that after 45 years of membership they are not willing – unless there is some fundamental change of approach – to offer this country the same terms as Canada.

And so with high hearts and complete confidence we will prepare to embrace the alternative.

And we will prosper mightily as an independent free trading nation, controlling our own borders, our fisheries, and setting our own laws.

And in the meantime the government will be focusing on tackling COVID and building back better so that 2021 is a year of recovery and renewal.

Thank you very much.

UK – Germany, Trade in Goods

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Germany is consistently in the top 3 countries in the world that trade goods with the UK (The USA also appears consistently in the top 3).

More than 10% of the monthly goods imported to the UK are from Germany and more than 10% of good exported from the UK go to Germany.

In the 8 months (Jan – Aug 2020), the UK shows a trade deficit with Germany totalling £13.1 bn. (£13,100 million) i.e. Germany sends more goods to the UK than it receives from the UK.

References: https://www.uktradeinfo.com/

EU Council meeting (15 and 16 October 2020)

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Conclusions adopted by the EU Council at the meeting held on 15 and 16 October 2020.

Related to the future UK-EU Trade negotiations …

II. EU-UK RELATIONS

4. The European Council recalls that the transition period will end on 31 December 2020 and notes with concern that progress on the key issues of interest to the Union is still not sufficient
for an agreement to be reached.

5. The European Council reaffirms the Union’s determination to have as close as possible a partnership with the United Kingdom on the basis of the negotiating directives of 25 February 2020, while respecting the previously agreed European Council guidelines, as
well as statements and declarations, notably those of 25 November 2018, in particular as regards the level playing field, governance and fisheries.

6. Against this background, the European Council invites the Union’s chief negotiator to continue negotiations in the coming weeks, and calls on the UK to make the necessary moves to make an agreement possible.

7. As regards the Internal Market Bill tabled by the UK government, the European Council recalls that the Withdrawal Agreement and its Protocols must be fully and timely implemented.

8. The European Council calls upon Member States, Union institutions and all stakeholders to step up their work on preparedness and readiness at all levels and for all outcomes, including that of no agreement, and invites the Commission, in particular, to give timely consideration to unilateral and time-limited contingency measures that are in the EU’s interest.

9. The European Council will remain seized of the matter.

footnote:

Seized of a matter. Seised or seized comes from the French verb saisir and means to grasp, seize or grip. In the legal context it means that an entity, usually a court, has decided that it will consider a legal matter or issue falling within its jurisdiction. In this case it probably means that the EU Council “reserves the right to reconsider”


Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) tweeted:

“EU-UK talks: the EU continues to work for a deal, but not at any price. As planned, our negotiation team will go to London next week to intensify these negotiations.”


David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) tweeted:

1/3 Disappointed by the #EUCO conclusions on UK/EU negotiations. Surprised EU is no longer committed to working “intensively” to reach a future partnership as agreed with
@vonderleyen on 3 October.

2/3 Also surprised by suggestion that to get an agreement all future moves must come from UK. It’s an unusual approach to conducting a negotiation.

3/3 PM @BorisJohnson will set out UK reactions and approach tomorrow in the light of his statement of 7 September.


Angela Merkel said that she

“hopes British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will continue to engage in constructive negotiations that could lead to a deal. As long as we don’t have a deal we always have the option to consider how things would be without an agreement. I still think it is better to get a deal but not at any price.”

also

“We have called on Great Britain to continue to be willing to compromise for the sake of an agreement. That of course includes that we also must make compromises.”


Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron/ tweeted:

“In view of Brexit, the British need a deal more than the European Union. The Europeans are ready to continue negotiations. Our conditions are clear and known. It is now up to the UK to choose whether or not it wants a deal.”

also stated

“if there is no deal between the U.K. and the EU, Britain would no longer have access to Europe’s single energy market and that would cost more than €1 billion per year … bad deal for the U.K.”


and finally …

No mobile phones are allowed during the discussion on Brexit.

Council President Charles Michel “has requested to guarantee confidentiality on a sensitive issue”. The discussion is held under strict confidentiality conditions and leaders don’t have access to their mobile phones in order to keep leaders discussions on Brexit confidential

UK Overseas Trade in Goods, August 2020

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HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) collects the UK’s international trade in goods data for Non-EU and EU trade with the UK. These are published on a monthly basis and figures for August 2020 have recently been released. (09 October 2020).

UK overseas trade in goods statistics: August 2020

A summary document is available at:

UK Overseas Trade in Goods Statistics Commentary: August 2020

Summary

Total exports of goods for August 2020 were £23.1 billion.

Total imports of goods for August 2020 were £40.8 billion.

The UK was a net importer this month, with imports exceeding exports by £17.7 billion.

For EU trade the UK was a net importer this month, with imports exceeding exports by £6.2 billion.

For Non-EU trade the UK was a net importer this month, with imports exceeding exports by £11.4 billion.


Imports to the UK

EU Imports for August 2020 were £17.0 billion.

Non-EU Imports for August 2020 were £23.8 billion.

China accounted for 10.9% (£4.4bn) of the total value of imports to the UK. Germany had the second largest proportion of the total value of trade, accounting for 10.7% (£4.4bn) followed by the USA 7.7% (£3.2bn), the Netherlands 6.4% (£2.6bn) and Hong Kong 6.0% (£.5bn). The top five partner countries accounted for 42.8% of total UK import value this month.


Exports from the UK

EU Exports for August 2020 were £10.8 billion

Non-EU Exports for August 2020 were £12.4 billion.

The USA accounted for 14.5% (£3.4bn) per cent of the total value of goods exports from the UK. Germany had the second largest proportion accounting for 10.6% (£2.5bn) followed by the Irish Republic with 6.9% (£1.6bn), France with 6.0% (£1.4bn) and the Netherlands with 5.7% (£1.3bn). The top five export partners accounted for 43.7% of total exports in goods this month.


Spreadsheets are available which show the figures in more detail.

UK overseas trade in goods statistics August 2020: import and export data

The following tables contain EU and Non-EU import and export data for August 2020.

UK overseas trade in goods statistics July 2020: imports

UK overseas trade in goods statistics July 2020: exports


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