Categories
Future Relationship Trade Talks

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).

Categories
Future Relationship Political Declaration Withdrawal Agreement

40 reasons to back the Brexit deal

Information released by the Prime Ministers Office which outlines the reasons why the deal negotiated by the Prime Minister is the right deal for the UK.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/40-reasons-to-back-the-brexit-deal

Almost like a party manifesto – you will be able to check against this list what is and isn’t achieved in the future (if the deal ever passes through Parliament).

1. Free movement will come to an end, once and for all, with the introduction of a new skills-based immigration system.

2. We will take back full control of our money which we will be able to spend on our priorities such as the NHS. We will leave EU regional funding programmes – with the UK deciding how we spend this money in the future.

3. The jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK will end.

4. In the future we will make our own laws in our own Parliaments and Assemblies in Westminster, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

5. We will leave the Common Agricultural Policy.

6. We will leave the Common Fisheries Policy and become an independent coastal state again, with control over our waters.

7. We will be able to strike trade deals with other countries around the world. Deals can be negotiated and ratified during the implementation period and put in place straight afterwards.

8. We will be an independent voice for free trade on the global stage, speaking for ourselves at the World Trade Organisation, for the first time in decades.

9. We will be freed from the EU’s political commitment to ever closer union.

10. We will be out of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, recognising the UK’s long track record in protecting human rights.

11. A fair settlement of our financial obligations, which will be less than half what was originally predicted.

12. Both the one million UK citizens living in the EU and the three million EU citizens living in the UK will have their rights legally guaranteed so they can carry on living their lives as before.

13. We will have a free trade area with the EU, with no tariffs, fees, charges or quantitative restrictions across all sectors, helping to protect UK jobs. We will be the only major economy with such a relationship with the EU.

14. We’ve agreed with the EU that we will be as ambitious as possible in easing the movement of goods between the UK and the EU as part of our free trade area.

15. We will have an implementation period after we leave the EU during which trade will continue much as it does now. This will allow government, businesses and citizens time to prepare for our new relationship.

16. The deal will see a greater reduction in barriers to trade in services than in any previous trade deal.

17. There will be an agreement that means UK citizens can practice their profession in the EU.

18. A comprehensive deal that secures access to the EU market for our financial services sector meaning the EU cannot withdraw it on a whim. This will provide stability and certainty for the industry.

19. A best in class agreement on digital, helping to facilitate e-commerce and reduce unjustified barriers to trade by electronic means.

20. We have agreed that there will be arrangements that will let data continue to flow freely, vital across our economy and for our shared security.

21. Trade arrangements for gas and electricity will help to ease pressure on prices and keep supply secure.

22. Strong rules will be in place to keep trade fair, so neither the UK nor EU can unfairly subsidise their industries against the other.

23. We will have a comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and comparable access for freight operators, buses and coaches.

24. We have agreed that there will be arrangements so we can take part in EU programmes like Horizon and Erasmus.

25. There will be a co-operation agreement with Euratom, covering all the key areas where we want to collaborate.

26. Visa-free travel to the EU for holidays and business trips will continue.

27. Our new security partnership will mean sharing of data like DNA, passenger records and fingerprints to fight crime and terrorism, going beyond any previous agreement the EU has made with a third country.

28. Our new security partnership will enable the efficient and swift surrender of suspected and wanted criminals.

29. Close co-operation for our police forces and other law enforcement bodies.

30. We will continue to work together on sanctions against those who violate international rules.

31. We will work together on cyber-security threats and support international efforts to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

32. Disputes between the UK and the EU on the agreement will be settled by an independent arbitrator, ensuring a fair outcome.

33. We will meet our commitment to ensure that there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

34. We will keep the Common Travel Area between the United Kingdom and Ireland, ensuring everyday life continues as now.

35. We will keep the Single Electricity Market between Northern Ireland and Ireland, which will help maintain a stable energy supply and keep prices down in Northern Ireland.

36. Both sides will be legally committed, by the Withdrawal Agreement, to use “best endeavours” to get the future relationship in place by the end of the implementation period, helping to ensure the backstop is never used.

37. An agreement to consider alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, including all facilitative arrangements and technologies, and to begin preparatory work on this before we leave the EU, reflecting shared determination to replace the backstop.

38. In the unlikely event we do have to use the backstop, a UK-wide customs area will ensure there is no customs border in the Irish Sea.

39. Gibraltar’s British sovereignty will be protected.

40. The deal delivers on the referendum result. It takes back control of our money, borders and laws whilst protecting jobs, security and the integrity of the United Kingdom.

Categories
Brexit Negotiations Future Relationship Withdrawal Agreement

Brexit – PM statement: 21 September 2018

Following the debacle of the recent meeting with other EU leaders in Salzburg Theresa May, today, issued the following statement:

Yesterday, I was in Salzburg for talks with European leaders.

I have always said that these negotiations would be tough – and they were always bound to be toughest in the final straight.

While both sides want a deal, we have to face up to the fact that – despite the progress we have made – there are two big issues where we remain a long way apart.

The first is our economic relationship after we have left.

Here, the EU is still only offering us two options.

The first option would involve the UK staying in the European Economic Area and a customs union with the EU. In plain English, this would mean we’d still have to abide by all the EU rules, uncontrolled immigration from the EU would continue and we couldn’t do the trade deals we want with other countries.

That would make a mockery of the referendum we had two years ago.

The second option would be a basic free trade agreement for Great Britain that would introduce checks at the Great Britain/EU border. But even worse, Northern Ireland would effectively remain in the Customs Union and parts of the Single Market, permanently separated economically from the rest of the UK by a border down the Irish Sea.

Parliament has already – unanimously – rejected this idea.

Creating any form of customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK would not respect that Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom, in line with the principle of consent, as set out clearly in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. It is something I will never agree to – indeed, in my judgement it is something no British Prime Minister would ever agree to. If the EU believe I will, they are making a fundamental mistake. Anything which fails to respect the referendum or which effectively divides our country in two would be a bad deal and I have always said no deal is better than a bad deal.

But I have also been clear that the best outcome is for the UK to leave with a deal. That is why, following months of intensive work and detailed discussions, we proposed a third option for our future economic relationship, based on the frictionless trade in goods.

That is the best way to protect jobs here and in the EU and to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, while respecting the referendum result and the integrity of the United Kingdom.

Yesterday Donald Tusk said our proposals would undermine the single market. He didn’t explain how in any detail or make any counter-proposal. So we are at an impasse.

The second issue is connected to the first. We both agree that the Withdrawal Agreement needs to include a backstop to ensure that if there’s a delay in implementing our new relationship, there still won’t be a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

But the EU is proposing to achieve this by effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the Customs Union.

As I have already said, that is unacceptable. We will never agree to it. It would mean breaking up our country.

We will set out our alternative that preserves the integrity of the UK. And it will be in line with the commitments we made back in December – including the commitment that no new regulatory barriers should be created between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK unless the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly agree.

As I told EU leaders, neither side should demand the unacceptable of the other.

We cannot accept anything that threatens the integrity of our union, just as they cannot accept anything that threatens the integrity of theirs.

We cannot accept anything that does not respect the result of the referendum, just as they cannot accept anything that is not in the interest of their citizens.

Throughout this process, I have treated the EU with nothing but respect. The UK expects the same. A good relationship at the end of this process depends on it.

At this late stage in the negotiations, it is not acceptable to simply reject the other side’s proposals without a detailed explanation and counter proposals.

So we now need to hear from the EU what the real issues are and what their alternative is so that we can discuss them. Until we do, we cannot make progress.

In the meantime, we must and will continue the work of preparing ourselves for no deal.

In particular, I want to clarify our approach to two issues.

First, there are over 3 million EU citizens living in the UK who will be understandably worried about what the outcome of yesterday’s summit means for their future.

I want to be clear with you that even in the event of no deal your rights will be protected. You are our friends, our neighbours, our colleagues. We want you to stay.

Second, I want to reassure the people of Northern Ireland that in the event of no deal we will do everything in our power to prevent a return to a hard border.

Let me also say this.

The referendum was the largest democratic exercise this country has ever undergone. To deny its legitimacy or frustrate its result threatens public trust in our democracy.

That is why for over two years I have worked day and night to deliver a deal that sees the UK leave the EU.

I have worked to bring people with me even when that has not always seemed possible.

No one wants a good deal more than me.

But the EU should be clear: I will not overturn the result of the referendum. Nor will I break up my country.

We need serious engagement on resolving the two big problems in the negotiations. We stand ready.

Categories
Brexit Negotiations Future Relationship Negotiations Withdrawal Agreement

Salzburg Summit – No Deal ?

An informal meeting of EU leaders was held in Salzburg on 19-20 September 2018 to discuss internal security, migration and Brexit.

It was hosted by Sebastian Kurz, Chancellor of Austria, which currently holds the Presidency of the European Council. Donald Tusk, President of the European council chaired the meeting and together with Jean-Claude Juncker President of the European Commission represented the EU.

Prior to the meeting, Donald Tusk made the following statement on Brexit negotiations:

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The Brexit negotiations are entering their decisive phase. Various scenarios are still possible today, but I would like to stress that some of Prime Minister May’s proposals from Chequers indicate a positive evolution in the UK’s approach as well as a will to minimise the negative effects of Brexit. By this I mean, among other things, the readiness to cooperate closely in the area of security and foreign policy. On other issues, such as the Irish question, or the framework for economic cooperation, the UK’s proposals will need to be reworked and further negotiated. Today there is perhaps more hope, but there is surely less and less time. Therefore, every day that is left, we must use for talks. I would like to finalise them still this autumn. This is why, at tomorrow’s meeting of the twenty-seven, I will propose calling an additional summit around mid-November.
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During dinner on the 19 September, the Prime Minister was graciously allowed 10 minutes to present her plan, agreed by the cabinet and known as the Chequers Deal, to the other 27 EU Leaders. They will not engage directly in negotiations with the PM in order to preserve the role of Michel Barnier as their chief negotiator.

The meeting ended with a working lunch on the 20 September, in an EU27 format to discuss Brexit. This was an opportunity to review progress in the talks with the UK and to discuss the way forward.

Donald Tusk made a statement, at the end of the meeting, during which he included the following comment on Brexit negotiations:

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At our EU27 working lunch today we had a good discussion on Brexit, which once again reconfirmed our full unity. Let me highlight three points.

First, we reconfirmed that there will be no Withdrawal Agreement without a solid, operational and legally binding Irish backstop. And we continue to fully support Michel Barnier in his efforts to find such a model.

Second, we agreed to have a joint political declaration that provides as much clarity as possible on the future relations. Everybody shared the view that while there are positive elements in the Chequers proposal, the suggested framework for economic cooperation will not work. Not least because it risks undermining the Single Market.

Third, we also discussed the timetable for further negotiations. The moment of truth for Brexit negotiations will be the October European Council. In October we expect maximum progress and results in the Brexit talks. Then we will decide whether conditions are there to call an extraordinary summit in November to finalise and formalise the deal.
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Theresa May appealed directly to her European counterparts to drop unacceptable Brexit demands that she warned could rip Britain apart, urging the bloc to respond in kind to her serious and workable plan.

We both agree that there can be no withdrawal agreement with no legally operative backstop. But that backstop cannot divide the UK into two customs territories, and we will be bringing forward our own proposals shortly

So with the rejection by the EU of Theresa May’s Chequers Plan it is now looking more likely for the UK to leave the EU without any agreed plan for the future relationship between the UK and the EU. It would also mean any formal Withdrawal Agreement between the 2 sides which would also be abandoned.

The hardline approach being taken by the EU indicates the desire to punish the UK for leaving in an attempt to dissuade other members from following the same path.

Leader after leader lined up to reject the key elements of the Chequers plan and there appears to have been a coordinated “ambush” on Theresa May by fellow leaders to brief against her at the end of the conference. Donald Tusk even mocking Theresa May with a quip concerning “cherries and cake” on his instagram account.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bn8Luwbjzf9/

Categories
Brexit Negotiations Future Relationship Policy Paper

The future relationship between the UK and the EU – White Paper

The long-awaited White Paper on the Future Relationship between the UK and the EU, has been published (12 July 2018). This follows on from the contents being agreed (unanimously) by the Cabinet at the recent meeting at Chequers. The document has more than 104 pages.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-future-relationship-between-the-united-kingdom-and-the-european-union

The newly appointed Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, is making a statement to the House of Commons about the Brexit White Paper. The statement was interrupted and the House of Commons suspended while MPs were given copies of the white paper. John Bercow, however, rejected a further request to suspend the sitting so that MPs could have time to read the White Paper.

(in case you don’t know who Domininc Raab is …)

https://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/Dominic-Raab/4007

Here’s the statement:

With your permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a statement about the UK’s future relationship with the European Union.

Let me start by paying tribute to my Right Honourable Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden, and his Herculean efforts along with my Honourable Friend the Member for Wycombe and the wider Dexeu team, to get us to this point in both the negotiations and the successful passage of the EU Withdrawal Bill. It is a striking achievement.

My Right Honourable Friend is a loss to Government, but I suspect, with the mildest apprehension, a considerable gain to this House.

Shortly, we will publish the Government’s White Paper on the UKs Future Relationship with the European Union. It is a new and detailed proposal for a principled, pragmatic and ambitious future partnership between the UK and the EU, in line with the policy agreed at Chequers last week.

I am placing a copy of the White Paper in the Libraries of both Houses, but let me briefly set out the key proposals. Mr Speaker, the Government is determined to build a new relationship that works for both the UK and the EU, one grounded in our shared history, but which looks to a bright and ambitious future. A relationship that delivers real and lasting benefit to both sides.

First, Mr Speaker the White Paper confirms that the UK will leave the European Union on 29 March 2019, forging a new way in the world – outside the Single Market, outside the Customs Union. It safeguards the constitutional and economic integrity of the UK. It reclaims the UK’s sovereignty. and it protects our economic interests, by minimising the risk of disruption to trade.