Brexit Bites, 9 February 2018

Feb 09, 2018

This week UK and EU negotiators held their first formal talks on Brexit since the provisional deal reached in December. In other developments, despite comments from Theresa May in China to the contrary, the UK government has ruled out staying within the EU’s Customs Union after Brexit while it seems possible that the UK and EU could be on different time zones after Brexit. 

More talks

UK and EU negotiators held their first formal talks on Brexit this week since a provisional deal was tentatively reached in December. To kick off the week, EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier met his UK counterpart David Davis in London on Monday.

The remainder of the week saw the two teams meet in Brussels to talk about the transition period which included discussions about the avoidance of the land border with Ireland and immigration.

These talks sit against the backdrop of another leaked document this week drawn up by the EU which suggests that the EU wants to be able to restrict UK access to the Single Market if there is a dispute post Brexit.   

A footnote in the document entitled Transitional Arrangements in the Withdrawal Agreement which has since published seems to give the EU power to suspend certain benefits during a transition phase after March 2019.  This means customs checks and tariffs could be a reality.

It also reaffirms the EU’s position that UK officials will not have a role in decision-making within the EU after 29 March 2019.

Reports are that the UK Cabinet haven’t reached a final position on what type of deal they want from the EU  but it’s expected that agreement is imminent.  Talks on trade are due to start by end of March but the EU wants an update from the UK in advance of that.

UK rules out Customs Union

The UK government has ruled out staying within the EU’s Customs Union post Brexit.  After some reported confusion last week during a visit to China, where the UK Prime Minister Theresa May hinted that the UK would consider staying within the Custom’s Union, it’s been reported that the Downing St clarified the position saying “It’s not our policy to stay in the Customs Union.”

A Customs Union would mean tariffs on goods coming into the EU and would stop members striking up trade deals on their own with other countries. While businesses in the UK would prefer this option as they feel it would keep trade flowing, and it would of course solve the problem of avoiding a hard border in Ireland, this is not something that the UK will negotiate for. 

 

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