Brexit Bites, 2 October 2017

Oct 02, 2017

Last week saw the fourth round of Brexit negotiations conclude in Brussels with the EU warning that sufficient progress has not been made. In other developments, a draft resolution prepared by the European Parliament says a hard border will be difficult to avoid on the island of Ireland unless Northern Ireland remains in the Customs Union or Single Market, while the UK Prime Minister insists the UK are putting a plan in place in case no deal is reached in Brexit talks.

Any breakthrough?

Following the UK Prime Minister’s recent speech in Florence where she aimed to break the deadlock in the Brexit negotiations, the fourth round of negotiations were eagerly anticipated by both sides. Having concluded the latest round of talks last Thursday however, it would appear that less progress than was hoped was made. 

It’s reported that the divorce terms were worked through and some progress on citizens’ rights was reported. On the financial settlement, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said there had been a “useful” discussion but the UK have not come up with a number.  On Ireland progress was reported in some areas, while it’s understood there was some disagreement about the future role of the European Court of Justice in protecting citizens’ rights.

At the press conference following the talks, UK Brexit Secretary David Davis said he was more optimistic that progress could be made on the divorce bill, the rights of EU citizens and Northern Ireland.  Michel Barnier was more cautious.  He said: "We have had a constructive week, yes, but we are not yet there in terms of achieving sufficient progress. Further work is needed in the coming weeks and months."

The next round of talks will begin on 9 October and the EU summit will follow where an assessment of whether there has been enough ground covered in the talks to move on to the future trading relationship between the EU and the UK will take place. The UK will also hope to open discussions on the two year transitional period that Theresa May put forward in her speech. 

Border blues

The European Parliament have prepared a draft resolution which states that if there is to be no physical infrastructure on the border between the North and South of Ireland, Northern Ireland would have to remain in the Single Market and Customs Union.

With the support of all major political groups, MEPs have concluded that this is the best solution and will ensure that there is no border on the island of Ireland. 

This proposal would mean that customs checks would talk place at ports on the Irish Sea and would mean continued free movement on the island.  It is in direct contrast to the plans put forward by the UK for random spot checks and no physical infrastructure. 

The resolution will now be voted on by European Parliament. The Parliament does not have a role in the Brexit negotiations but does have to pass any agreement reached between the EU and the UK when the negotiations conclude.

Brexit Shorts

  • Theresa May says that the UK is putting a plan in place in case no deal is reached with EU.
  • Leo Varadkar tells Theresa May that Ireland will not accept physical infrastructure at border
  • Minister Simon Coveney says any transition period post Brexit could take four years.
  • No more having your cake and eating it, warns President of the EU Council

Read all of our Brexit updates on the dedicated Brexit section of our website.