Brexit Bites, 9 March 2018

Mar 08, 2018

During the past week, the EU put forward its negotiating stance on the future relationship with the UK and what was on offer was clear and succinct. The EU did say that if the UK is open to changing its mind on certain policy issues, the EU would reconsider these areas.  In other news, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council met with the Taoiseach in Dublin yesterday and said that all of the Member States agree that Ireland’s requirements from the Brexit talks are a priority for the EU.   

EU’s puts forward its negotiating stance

The EU finalised their draft negotiating stance on the future trading relationship with the UK this week and while what on offer was quite clear and succinct, the EU did say that if the UK changes its mind on certain areas, the EU would be prepared to reconsider its stance.

In what the UK Chancellor, Philip Hammond considered a “tough” stance, the EU repeated the point that there will be no cherry picking of elements of the Single market; the EU’s principles will not be sacrificed.  While there was no specific mention of Northern Ireland, the guidelines say that the UK decision to leave the Customs Union will inevitably lead to frictions and checks and controls will be necessary to uphold the principles of the Single Market.

On free trade, the EU says it’s open to beginning work on a free trade agreement which would see no tariffs or quantitative restrictions on goods but would require cooperation on customs measures.  This agreement cannot apply in the same way to services and there was no specific mention of financial services in the draft guidelines.  The EU would like to maintain reciprocal access to fishing waters and resources, while also keeping the skies open between the UK and EU in terms of the aviation industry.

The EU also wants a framework to be developed for the mutual recognition of professional qualifications between the two territories and is also seeking close cooperation with the UK on security, criminal matters and personal data.

Commenting on the guidelines after sending them to the EU27, President of the European Council, Donald Tusk was frank, saying that while the EU “don’t want to build a wall between the EU and Britain…….This positive approach doesn't change the simple fact that because of Brexit we will be drifting apart.  In fact, this will be the first FTA in history that loosens economic ties, instead of strengthening them. Our agreement will not make trade between the UK and the EU frictionless or smoother. It will make it more complicated and costly than today, for all of us. This is the essence of Brexit.”

Donald Tusk meets the Taoiseach in Dublin

Mr Tusk travelled to Dublin to meet the Taoiseach yesterday to discuss Ireland’s concerns on Brexit issues ahead of the European Council meeting which will take place in two weeks.  

At a press conference after meeting Leo Varadkar, the European Council President said that the requirements of Ireland are a priority for all EU leaders.  On the hard border he said “We also expect the UK to propose a specific and realistic solution to avoid a hard border. As long as the UK doesn't present such a solution, it is very difficult to imagine substantive progress in Brexit negotiations. If in London someone assumes that the negotiations will deal with other issues first, before moving to the Irish issue, my response would be: Ireland first.”

Mr Tusk said that the EU was willing to negotiate a free trade agreement on goods where tariffs could be erased. However the same terms and conditions cannot be applied to services and he said that “life will be different after Brexit.”

The Taoiseach thanked Mr Tusk for his "solid and sensible leadership" and "unwavering support for Ireland in our unique concerns" and said the talks between them had been extensive.

Brexit Shorts

  • Sterling hits three month low against Euro
  • EU accused of overreach in the withdrawal guidelines
  • Manufacturing sector in Northern Ireland could use a boost, says industry leader

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