Brexit talks to move to next stage

by Garry Watts December 16, 2017, 5:52
Brexit talks to move to next stage

Here's a look at what's next.

It took ten minutes for leaders to adopt the guidelines for the transition talks to begin in January.

Mrs May is set to discuss her vision of the "end state" for the United Kingdom outside the European Union at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, having suffered her first Commons Brexit defeat earlier this week.

But the next, more decisive phase of the negotiations will further test her authority by exposing the deep rifts among her top team of ministers over what Britain should become after Brexit.

The three-page document says the United Kingdom will remain under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and be required to permit freedom of movement during any transition period. However, it would still have to obey EU laws and respect the primacy of the European Court of Justice. In essence, it means that Britain will have to obey the rules without having any say until 2021.

In London the Daily Telegraph said the guidelines for the negotiations poured cold water on the hopes of Brexiteers of a swift movement to detailed negotiations on a free trade agreement with the EU.

Questions still linger over the divorce agreement, after British Brexit minister David Davis appeared to suggest it was not legally enforceable.

The British government itself is divided on how much economic autonomy it is willing to give up to secure close economic relations with the EU.

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The EU's rules for transition include complying with EU trade policy, which means the United Kingdom could start its own bilateral trade negotiations (but cannot conclude them before the transition period ends), and can ask the EU and third parties to roll-over existing trade accords. By the same token, Britain can not formalize trade agreements with other countries until it has left altogether.

The EU27 confirmed Brussels' position that a final trade deal can not be signed until the United Kingdom has formally left.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, broke the news that the 27 EU leaders were happy to move on to phase two after they met in Brussels.

"There cannot be any border controls between Northern and southern Ireland, there cannot be border controls between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom, but there can between United Kingdom and the European Union", he said.

The Commission will consult member states on their priorities in a series of seminars early next year, he said, adding: "I think the real negotiations on the second phase will start in March next year".

The document says: "As the United Kingdom will continue to participate in the customs union and the single market during the transition, it will have to continue to comply with EU trade policy".

He also said his party would not put a time limit on a post-Brexit transition phase, as the expected two-year period would be "extremely tight".

Still, time is running out for Britain - EU negotiators have said that an agreement has to be in place by October next year in order for it to get the requisite clearance from national parliaments in time for the actual day of Brexit in March, 2019.


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