Friday 15 December 2017

Brexit ~ Guidelines for Withdrawal negotiations Phase 2

Today (15th December) the European Council agreed that "sufficient progress" has been made on citizens' rights. Ireland and the financial settlement to permit negotiations to proceed to Phase 2.  The Council has issued its guidelines for this next phase:

European Council 15th December 2017 - Guidelines for Brexit negotiations - (or directly to the 4 page pdf - HERE).

Here are the key points:

1.  The EC Guidelines of 29th April continue to apply in their entirety

2.  Agreement by EC to negotiate a transition period (of around 2 years) covering the whole of the EU acquis, while the UK, as a third country, will  no longer participate in or nominate members of the EU institutions, nor participate in the decision making of the Union bodies, offices and agencies

A possible difficulty here appears to be that the EU could make significant changes to the "acquis" whilst the UK will have no rights to participate in decision-making.

3.  Transitional arrangements will be part of the Withdrawal Agreement but must be "in the interest of the Union, clearly defined and precisely limited in time."

4.  The acquis adopted by EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies will apply to the UK and the EU.

5.  All existing EU regulatory, budgetary, supervisory. judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures will also apply including the competence of the Court of Justice of the EU.

6.  UK will participate in the Customs Union and the Single Market (with all four freedoms) during the transition and will have to comply with EU trade policy, apply EU customs tariffs and collect EU customs duties and to ensure that all EU checks are being performed on the border vis-à-vis other third countries.

7.  January 2018 will see the Council adopting additional negotiating directives on transitional arrangements.

8.  The EU desires to establish a close partnership with the UK.

9.  An agreement on a future relationship can only be finalised when the UK has become a third country but the EU will engage in "preliminary and preparatory discussions with the aim of identifying an overall understanding of the framework for the future relationship, once additional guidelines have been adopted to this effect. Such an understanding should be elaborated in a political declaration accompanying and referred to in the Withdrawal Agreement."

10.  Noting that the UK government has said that it will no longer participate in the Customs Union and the Single Market after the transition period,  the EC will "calibrate its approach as regards trade and economic co-operation in the light of this position."

11.  The EC is ready to establish partnerships in areas unrelated to trade and economic co-operations, in particular the fight against terrorism and international crime, as well as security, defence and foreign policy.

12.  Additional guidelines to come in March 2018 particularly as regards the framework for the future relationship.  The UK government is asked to provide further clarity on its position for the future relationship.

Much remains to be finalised and the difficulties ahead should not be underestimated.

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