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Michel Barnier – Statement at end of Round 5 negotiations

In his statement at the press conference following the end of the 5th round of Brexit negotiations Michel Barnier declared that the negotiations had reached a “very disturbing” deadlock.

Talks have ground to a halt over the size of the Divorce Bill demanded by the EU for the UK to pay before it leaves.

He also confirmed that sufficient progress had not been made in order for discussions to proceed with talks on a future trade agreement.

The EU still refuses to make any concessions on questions related to the Divorce Bill, Citizens Rights or Ireland and expects the UK to cede to all their demands.

Here’s the full statement by Barnier:

Good afternoon to all of you.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear David, Theresa May’s Florence speech has given these negotiations much needed momentum. We worked constructively this week. We clarified certain points. But without making any great steps forward.

We still have a common goal: the desire to reach an agreement on the UK’s withdrawal and to outline our future relationship, when the time comes. From the EU side, this is what President Donald Tusk very clearly said three days ago.

Our negotiations are framed within in this perspective.

We share the same objectives as the UK:

  • To protect the rights of all citizens concerned regarding the consequences of withdrawal.
  • To preserve the peace process in Northern Ireland and cooperation on the island of Ireland.
  • To honour at 28 the commitments taken at 28

For us, from the EU side, achieving and realising these three big bjectives is the condition for engaging in a discussion, as soon as possible, on a new ambitious, long-lasting partnership.

Where are we at the end of this fifth round?

More precisely, on each of the main subjects linked to the UK’s withdrawal:

On citizens’ rights:

We have two common objectives:

  1. That the Withdrawal Agreement has direct effect, which is essential to guarantee the rights of all citizens in the long-term.
  2. That the interpretation of these rights is fully consistent in the European Union and in the United Kingdom.

On these points, we will continue to work on the specific instruments and mechanisms which will allow us to translate this into reality. This means for us the role of the European Court of Justice.

Furthermore, divergences still exist on the possibility of family reunification and on the exportation of social benefits after Brexit, both of which we want.

For us, for example, it is important that any European citizen living in the UK can – in 10 or 15 years’ time – bring his/her parents to the UK, as would be the case for British citizens living in the EU.

In the same vain, an EU citizen who has worked for 20 years in the UK should be able to move to an EU Member State and still benefit from his/her disability allowance, under the same conditions as British citizens in the EU.

Finally, an important point for the Member States of the Union: the UK has informed us of its intention to put in place a simplified procedure which allows citizens to assert their rights. We will study attentively the practical details of this procedure, which should really be simple for citizens.

On Ireland

ladies and gentlemen:

This week we advanced on the joint principles on the continuation of the Common Travel Area and I welcome this.

We continued our intensive work on mapping out areas of cooperation that operate on a North South basis on the island of Ireland.

There is more work to do in order to build a full picture of the challenges to North-South cooperation resulting from the UK, and therefore Northern Ireland, leaving the EU legal framework.

This is necessary in order to identify the solutions.

This week, we agreed that the six principles proposed by the EU in September would guide our work on protecting the Good Friday Agreement in all its dimensions.

Financial Settlement:

Theresa May confirmed in her Florence speech that the UK will honour commitments it has made during the period of its membership. This is an important commitment. The UK told us again this week that it still could not clarify these commitments. Therefore, there was no negotiation on this, but we did have technical discussions which were useful, albeit technical.

We are, therefore, at a deadlock on this question. This is extremely worrying for European taxpayers and those who benefit from EU policies.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is my summary of our work on the three main topics this week. On this basis, and as things stand at present, I am not able to recommend to the European Council next week to open discussions on the future relationship.

I will say before you again that trust is needed between us if this future relationship is to be solid, ambitious and long-lasting. This trust will come with clarity and the respect of all commitments made together.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Before concluding, I would like to make just one observation.

At one of our recent press conferences, one of you asked me when the European Union would be “ready to make concessions.”

We will not ask the UK to “make concessions”.

The agreement that we are working towards will not be built on “concessions.”

This is not about making “concessions” on the rights of citizens.

This is not about making “concessions” on the peace process in Northern Ireland.

This is not about making “concessions” on the thousands of investment projects and the men and women involved in them in Europe.

In these complex and difficult negotiations, we have shared objectives, we have shared obligations, we have shared duties, and we will only succeed with shared solutions. That is our responsibility.

Since Florence, there is a new dynamic. I remain convinced that with political will, decisive progress is within our reach in the coming weeks.

My responsibility as the Commission’s negotiator, on behalf of the European Union, and with the trust of President Juncker, is to find the way to make progress, while fully respecting the conditions of the European Council, as agreed unanimously on 29 April – which is my mandate – and in constant dialogue with the European Parliament who has twice voiced its opinion, by a very large majority.

That is my mind-set a couple of days ahead of the next European Council

Thank you.

References

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-17-3921_en.htm

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-17-3921_en.pdf (pdf)

Joint letter from the EU and the UK to the WTO

by Politicker 0 Comments

On the 11 October, the EU and UK published a joint letter sent from the EU and the UK Permanent Representatives to the WTO.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-and-eu-set-out-proposals-to-wto-members-for-trade-post-brexit

In preparation for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, the UK government and the European Commission have set out a number of proposals for future global trading arrangements.

The proposals include apportioning the EU’s existing commitments on the amount of imported goods on which a lower duty is charged. These tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) apply to a range of everyday items such as dairy products and meat.

International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox said

“As an international economic department, we’ve been working closely with the European Commission to prepare for our withdrawal from the EU in order to minimise any disruption to global trade.”

“Our agreed collaborative approach shows real progress on how UK government intends to take forward our future trading arrangements with the world. This is the start of our open and constructive engagement with the WTO membership and sets out our intentions regarding EU quotas to forge ahead and establish the UK as an independent WTO member.”

To ensure a smooth transition which minimises disruption to our trading relationships with other WTO members the UK intends to replicate as far as possible its obligations under the current commitments of the EU.

This agreed approach between the UK and EU will now form the first part of our cooperative, inclusive and open engagement we will have with WTO members, in accordance with WTO rules and procedures.

The letter is available from

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/651033/Letter_from_EU_and_UK_Permanent_Representatives.pdf (pdf)

and was signed by

On behalf of the UK by
H.E. Julian Braithwaite, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the International Organizations in Geneva

On behalf of the EU by
H.E. Marc Vanheukelen, Permanent Representative of the European Union to the WTO

However, it may not be as straightforward as it seems according to a report from the BBC,

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41581705

and another report by Politico EU

http://www.politico.eu/article/us-rounds-on-britain-over-food-quotas-as-post-brexit-trade-woes-deepen/

A number of countries Argentina, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand, Uruguay and the USA have objected to the proposals because dividing quotas for goods imported at reduced tariffs for crucial agricultural goods such as meat, sugar and grains will leave them worse off. The letter was sent to Julian Braithwaite and Marc Vanheukelen on September 27. I noticed a copy of this letter at

http://im.ft-static.com/content/images/ec0a64b2-a95f-11e7-ab55-27219df83c97.pdf

References

I found a useful article about Tariff-rate Quotas on the Trade Beta Blog at

UK, EU, WTO, Brexit primer — 2. Tariff quotas

President Tusk on Brexit

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, made the following comments on Brexit during a speech at the Plenary Session of the European Committee of the Regions held on 10 October – State of Union- the view of the regions:

We hear from London that the UK Government is preparing for a “no-deal” scenario.

I would like to say very clearly that the EU is not working on such a scenario.

We are negotiating in good faith and we still hope that the so-called “sufficient progress” will be possible by December.

However, if it turns out that the talks continue at a slow pace, and that sufficient progress hasn’t been reached, then together with our UK friends, we will have to think about where we are heading.

Brexit Negotiations – Round 5

The fifth round of talks between the UK and the EU started on Monday 9th October 2017 and is scheduled to finish on 12 October 2017.

Doesn’t seem to be anything different from previous rounds, so its hardly worth quoting the Agenda for the week of meetings. For some reason there are no details specified for Wed 10 October. Here’s the Agenda anyway

Monday, 9 October 2017
Technical working groups

Tuesday, 10 October 2017
Coordinators’ Session

Thursday, 28 September 2017
Principals’ meeting

Press briefing (to be confirmed)

Note:
There are three technical working groups covering citizens’ rights, financial settlement and other
separation issues. Horizontal issues, including governance, will be addressed by the Coordinators.
Additional technical working groups may be scheduled during the week.

David Davis and Michel Barnier didn’t meet this time on the first day of the talks.

When asked why the schedule for Wednesday had been left blank, the European commission’s spokesman said “the timetable was drawn up according to the availability of the British negotiating team“. A spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the EU said: “The talks this week were a mutually agreed programme designed to give both sides the best chance to make progress. We have always been clear that we are ready to negotiate at any time.

In my opinion, with the apparent reluctance of the EU negotiating team to make “any” concessions, or to extend negotiatins to cover further topis, it wouldn’t be a surprise if ongoing negotiations were cancelled at some point in the near future.

Government Vision for post EU Trade and Customs

by Politicker 0 Comments

The Government have released white papers which pave the way for legislation that will ensure the UK is ready for the first day after the UK’s exit from the EU.

The Trade White Paper, published by the Department for International Trade, establishes the principles that will guide future UK trade policy as well as laying out the practical steps that will support those aims.

UK Trade White Paper (pdf)

The paper establishes the principles that will guide future UK trade policy as well as laying out the practical steps that will support those aims and includes:

  • taking steps to enable the UK to maintain the benefits of the World Trade Organisation’s Government Procurement Agreement
  • ensuring the UK can support developing economies by continuing to give them preferential access to UK markets
  • preparing to bring across into UK law existing trade agreements between EU and non-EU countries
  • creating a new, UK trade remedies investigating authority

The Customs Bill White Paper, published by the Treasury, sets out plans to legislate for the standalone customs, VAT and excise regimes the UK will need once it leaves the EU.

Customs Bill White Paper (pdf)

Later this year, the government will bring a Customs Bill before parliament. The Customs Bill will give the UK the power to:

  • charge customs duty on goods; define how goods will be classified, set and vary the rates of customs duty and any quotas
  • amend the VAT and excise regimes so that they can function effectively post-exit
  • set out the rules governing how HMRC will collect and enforce the taxes and duties owed
  • implement tax-related elements of the UK’s future trade policy

For perhaps the first time, the Paper also consider a scenario, where the UK leaves the EU without a negotiated outcome on customs arrangements.

In this scenario, the Bill will make provision for the UK to establish a standalone customs regime from day one, including setting tariffs and quotas, and establishing a goods classification system in line with the government’s WTO obligations. The UK would apply the same customs duty to every country with which it does not have a trade deal or otherwise provide preferential access to the UK market, such as schemes for developing countries. The level of this duty would be decided by the government, and set out in secondary legislation before the UK leaves the EU. Currently, for the EU as a whole, only around 30% of imported goods (in value terms) are subject to the Common External Tariff. On the whole, traders who already import from outside the EU should see no change in the customs declarations procedures for those imports.

References

Government sets out vision for post EU trade and customs policy

Preparing for our future UK trade policy

WTO Agreement on Government Procurement

Customs Bill: legislating for the UK’s future customs, VAT and excise regimes

UK Trade Tariff: community and common transit outwards

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