UK Politics

Brexit: UK publishes more EU negotiation plans

EU flag and Big Ben Image copyright PA

The UK government has set out proposals to ensure trade in goods and services can continue on the day the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

A position paper calls for goods already on the market to be allowed to remain on sale in the UK and EU without additional restrictions.

It also calls for consumer protections to remain in place.

The Brexit department aims to keep pressure on the EU ahead of the third round of talks in Brussels next week.

A second paper calling for a reciprocal agreement to ensure continued confidentiality for official documents shared by Britain with its EU partners while it was a member state has also been published on Monday.

Further papers are due in the coming days, including one on the crucial issue of the European Court of Justice - a sticking point in talks.

Brussels is refusing to discuss future arrangements, such as trade, until citizens' rights, the UK's "divorce bill" and the Northern Ireland border have been settled.

EU leaders reiterated their stance last week as the UK published proposals about new customs arrangements.

Mr Davis said the latest batch of publications would "drive the talks forward" and "show beyond doubt" that enough progress had been made to move to the next stage of talks.

EU's response

David Davis said: "These papers will help give businesses and consumers certainty and confidence in the UK's status as an economic powerhouse after we have left the EU.

"They also show that as we enter the third round of negotiations, it is clear that our separation from the EU and future relationship are inextricably linked.

"We have already begun to set out what we would like to see from a future relationship on issues such as customs and are ready to begin a formal dialogue on this and other issues."

Image copyright PA
Image caption David Davis is eager to start trade talks

But European Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein said the UK's position papers would not alter the framework for talks drawn up by chief negotiator Michel Barnier and approved by the other 27 EU member states.

"There is a very clear structure in place, set by the EU27, about how these talks should be sequenced and that is exactly what we think should be happening now," Mr Winterstein told a Brussels press conference.

"So the fact that these papers are coming out is, as such, welcome because we see this as a positive step towards now really starting the process of negotiations.

"But as Michel Barnier has said time and again, we have to have sufficient progress first on the three areas of citizens' rights, financial settlement and Ireland, and only then can we move forwards to discussing the future relationship."

He added: "Hopefully we can make fast progress on the three areas I have mentioned because once we have reached sufficient progress there, we can move on to the second stage."

A Downing Street spokesman said: "Both sides need to adopt a flexible approach. We are working at pace. We are confident we will make sufficient progress.

"David Davis has said we want to move to the next stage in October."

'Dispute resolution'

Monday's publications urge the EU to widen its "narrow" definition of the availability of goods on the market to also include services, arguing this is the only way to protect consumers and businesses trading before Brexit.

The goods and services paper calls for:

  • Guarantees that goods on sale before exit day, in March 2019, can continue to be sold in the UK and EU, without any additional requirements or restrictions
  • Products that have been authorised for sale in the EU, such as approval for a certain model of a car, should remain valid in both markets after exit
  • UK consumer protection watchdogs should continue to have access to information about unsafe products, such as medicines and food, and "mechanisms to take action with respect to non-compliant goods"

Business group the CBI described Mr Davis's position on trade as a "significant improvement" on EU proposals which would create a "severe cliff-edge" for goods currently on the market.

But CBI campaigns director John Foster said: "The only way to provide companies with the reassurance they need is through the urgent agreement of interim arrangements.

"This would ensure that goods and services can still flow freely, giving companies the certainty they need to invest.

"The simplest way to achieve that is for the UK to stay in the single market and a customs union until a comprehensive new deal is in force."

The most contentious of the week's publications is expected to be about "enforcement and dispute resolution", as it tackles the question of the UK's future relationship with the European Court of Justice.

Theresa May has promised the UK will leave the jurisdiction of the EU court, with the government saying Parliament will "take back control" of its laws.

But the EU has insisted the ECJ must have a role in enforcing citizens' rights, and how to enforce any future trade deal has yet to be agreed.

Other papers expected this week will look at how to maintain the exchange of data with other European countries and future "co-operation" between the different legal systems.

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