Brexit bites, 24 July 2017

Jul 24, 2017
This past week saw the second round of negotiations between the EU and UK complete with divergence emerging over citizen’s rights. Round three takes place in August where the EU is calling for more clarity on the main positions. In other developments, Minster Simon Coveney tells the EU that Ireland “cannot and will not” accept a hard border while Bank of America chooses Dublin as its EU base post Brexit.

Round two of Brexit negotiations complete but fail to produce a break-through

The second round of discussions between UK and EU officials concluded in Brussels last Thursday where positions on the financial settlement, citizen’s rights and Ireland were presented by both sides in order to identify the points where there is agreement and issues where there is disagreement.

At a press conference which marked the end of the second round of talks, EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier said that “fundamental divergence” over citizen’s rights existed and called for “clarification” on the UK’s position on Ireland, the financial settlement and other matters.  UK Brexit Secretary David Davis has an optimistic tone saying he was “encouraged by the progress we have made on understanding each other’s positions”.

Mr Barnier stated that while there had been some areas of agreement about how Britons living abroad and EU nationals living in the UK should be treated after Brexit, he insisted that the European Court of Justice should be the guarantor of the rights of citizens living abroad. He said “Citizens must be able to identify the legal certainty that they need for their day-to-day lives.” In a joint paper which shows the UK and EU positions on citizen’s rights post Brexit, there are twenty two areas of convergence, fundamental disagreement on fourteen and eight areas where further clarification is needed. Among the points of disagreement are the future of family members and the UK wanting to require self-sufficient citizens such as stay at home parents to have private health insurance or comprehensive sickness insurance.

On the financial settlement, there is acceptance by the UK that they will have to pay a financial bill but there was no agreement or a sign that the UK is willing to compromise. 
On Ireland, Mr Barnier said that the Good Friday Agreement and the Common Travel Area dimensions needed further detailed discussion but that both sides want to preserve the benefits of both.   The EU called on the UK to clarify how it would maintain the Common Travel Area post Brexit and that there must be a “flexible and imaginative” solution to the border.  Specific issues surrounding the border were not part of the second round negotiations.  Minister Simon Coveney, who has special Brexit responsibilities for Ireland, said that he was “satisfied with the direction of the discussions.”

Three more rounds of talks are scheduled to take place in August, September and October before an EU summit in late October when the EU will decide whether there has been sufficient progress on the issues of citizen’s rights, the financial settlement and the Irish border.   Only then can the talks turn to the future trading relationship with the UK.

The second round of talks might have failed to produce a break-through on the key areas but with round three of the talks taking the theme of ‘clarification’ the feeling might be that this is necessary given the much talked about ticking clock. 

800,000 Irish passports expected to be issued in 2017
Concerns over Brexit could possibly be cited as a reason for the 10 percent increase in the number of Irish passports issued over the same period last year.  In a statement issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, so far this year, over 500,000 passports have issued with the total number for 2017 expected to reach 800,000.
It’s reported that the passport office has seen a significant rise in applications from UK citizens.

Bank of America chooses Dublin as EU base

It’s been reported that Bank of America has picked Dublin as its new base for EU operations following Brexit.  The move will ensure that the bank can continue to provide services to clients if their UK operations cannot operate in the EU post Brexit in March 2019.

Some roles will be moved from London to Dublin as well as other cities in the EU. Bank of America already employs over 700 people in Ireland with two offices in Dublin. It’s not yet clear how many staff will move to Ireland. 

Brexit shorts

 Minister Paschal Donohue meets UK Chancellor to discuss Ireland’s position on Brexit
• Report released analyses the costly consequences  if the UK and EU do not reach a deal
• EU/UK trade deal should be one of the “easiest in human history” according to UK Trade Minister
• Reuters report that the United States and the UK will begin exploring a trade deal today
• Minister Simon Coveney tells EU counterparts that Ireland “cannot and will not” accept a hard border
• EU Chief negotiator Michel Barnier met Minister Frances Fitzgerald in Brussels to discuss Ireland’s trade concerns
• UK exporters are unprepared for leaving the EU according to recent survey

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