Posts Tagged ‘David Davis’

UK divorce negotiations with the EU — UK and European Court of Justice after Brexit — ECJ should no longer have “direct jurisdiction” in Britain

August 23, 2017

LONDON — Britain has outlined its stance on how disputes with the European Union should be resolved after Brexit, in a politically sensitive paper published on Wednesday.

The paper attempts to deal with one of the most thorny issues in divorce negotiations with the EU, and ranges from laying down red lines to the non-committal tabling of talking points.

Here are some of the key elements:


The paper reiterates the government’s position that the ECJ should no longer have “direct jurisdiction” in Britain after it leaves the EU in March 2019.

Citizens’ rights – which the EU argues must be guaranteed by the ECJ – would instead be enforced by the UK courts and ultimately the UK Supreme Court.

However, in cases involving the thousands of EU laws due to be transposed into UK law, the paper says pre-Brexit decisions by the ECJ should have the same status in Britain as UK Supreme Court decisions even after Britain leaves.

The UK will “engage constructively” to negotiate an agreement on the future role of the ECJ, and one that satisfies both the UK and the EU.


The paper offers examples of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms used in other international agreements which do not require the direct jurisdiction of the Luxembourg-based ECJ over other countries.

It said they had been included “purely illustratively”.

They include:

– Agreements between the EU and Moldova and the European Economic Area, which make use of concepts from EU law. Disputes can be referred to the ECJ for its interpretation.

– Other trade agreements, such as NAFTA, in which a committee is formed with equal representation of all parties. These can be supported by officials from all sides in “technical groups”.

– Trade agreements between the EU and Canada and the EU and Vietnam, which detail provisions for arbitration, such as the creation of an arbitration panel. However the paper said such a panel would not have the power to rule on interpretations of EU law.

– The European Economic Area agreement, and that between the EU and Iceland and Norway. They require parties to keep up to date with new ECJ decisions, so that these can be taken into account in disputes centered on provisions that are identical to EU law.

– A number of international deals which allow parties to seek compensation, suspend all or part of an agreement, retaliate or take measures to protect their own interests if one party violates the terms or a dispute settlement.

The paper repeatedly stressed that the only model without precedent would be one in which the highest court of one party acts as the main arbiter for disputes with another – a scenario Britain says would be the case if it remained under the “direct jurisdiction” of the ECJ.

(Reporting by Emma Rumney; editing by Andrew Roche)


‘Climbdown’ for Britain over EU court role after Brexit — Or “Stabbed in the Back”?

August 23, 2017


© AFP/File / by Dario THUBURN | Britain is due to leave the European in March 2019

LONDON (AFP) – The European Court of Justice could wield influence in Britain even after Brexit through joint rulings with British officials, the government said on Wednesday in what critics described as a “climbdown”.The proposals outlined also left open the possibility of the ECJ having jurisdiction during any transition periods agreed for after Britain leaves the bloc and before a new UK-EU partnership comes into force.

Opposition lawmakers said the negotiating position was a reversal from the complete break previously advocated by Prime Minister Theresa May, who had said she would “bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain”.

The influence of the ECJ in Britain was a major bone of contention in last year’s EU referendum campaign in which supporters of a “Leave” vote had argued in favour of complete judicial sovereignty for Britain.

The government paper published on Wednesday said that only the ECJ’s “direct jurisdiction” would end.

“It is not necessary or appropriate for the CJEU (Court of Justice of the European Union) to have direct jurisdiction over a non-member state… Such an arrangement would be unprecedented,” the Department for Exiting the EU said.

Britain said there were “existing ways of resolving disputes in international agreements, without the CJEU having direct jurisdiction”.

It outlined several precedents such as joint political committees and arbitration courts already used by the EU to enforce international agreements with third countries and said similar mechanisms could be used for Britain after Brexit.

– ‘Pie in the sky’ –

Even the modified proposals are likely to prove a bone of contention with the EU, which has argued for direct ECJ jurisdiction for example in cases involving European citizens living in Britain.

But the perception among government critics in Britain was of a softening of its position.

Pro-EU opposition Labour MP Chuka Umunna said the “sudden shifting of the goalposts to ending only the ‘direct’ jurisdiction of the ECJ suggests they are paving the way for some sort of climbdown”.

Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, the most vocal pro-EU opposition party in parliament, said the proposals were a “sensible and long overdue climbdown”.

“The government seems to have belatedly accepted it won’t be possible to end the EU court’s influence in the UK without damaging our free trade and security cooperation,” he said in a statement.

Brexit junior minister Dominic Raab defended the government’s position saying it was “absolutely and wholesale wrong” to suggest that Britain would still have to respect the rulings of the ECJ.

But he added: “It makes sense for the UK to keep half an eye on the case law of the EU and for the EU to keep half an eye on the case law of the UK,” he told BBC Radio.

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve told the BBC: “The idea that we are somehow going to wholly escape the influence of the European Court of Justice on our lives in this country is, I’m afraid, pie in the sky”.

“It’s going to continue in many areas to have a very profound influence, but of course the difference is going to be that we will no longer have any direct influence into the formation of that EU jurisprudence because we ourselves will no longer be appearing in front of the ECJ as an EU member,” he said.

by Dario THUBURN

EU judges to have final say on British disputes? — Firestorm in Britain About Who Judges Who In Dispute Resolution

August 23, 2017
David Davis, the Brexit Secretary

Britain will be bound by future decisions of the European Court of Justice despite Brexit if it adopts arrangements outlined by ministers in a key negotiating document.

David Davis will publish a position paper on Wednesday which will state that the UK must no longer be under the “direct” jurisdiction of the ECJ after it leaves the EU.

However The Telegraph understands that the document, which sets out Britain’s negotiating position on dispute resolution, will highlight a series of existing arrangements where nations outside the EU “voluntarily” refer legal disagreements to the ECJ.

The twin towers of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg
The twin towers of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg

Under the arrangements, which currently apply to non-EU nations including Moldova, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, the ECJ makes “binding interpretations” in disputes.

The paper also highlights other arrangements which could “eliminate divergence” between the UK’s courts and the ECJ after Brexit in areas where…

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 BBC News

Brexit: No ‘direct jurisdiction’ for ECJ after Brexit, say ministers

Why the fuss about the European Court of Justice?

The UK will no longer be under the “direct jurisdiction” of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) after Brexit, a government policy paper will say.

Ministers say they want a “special partnership” with the EU, but it is “neither necessary nor appropriate” for the ECJ to police it.

Critics say the word “direct” leaves room for the ECJ to still play a part.

The pro-EU Open Britain group said the phrase paved the way for a “climbdown” over the jurisdiction of the court.

But Justice Minister Dominic Raab has told the BBC: “We’re leaving the EU and that will mean leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

“The likely outcome, is we’ll need some form of arbitration.”

Arbitration is where disputes are settled by a neutral third party. The UK and the EU would each appoint arbitrators and agree on a third.

He said this would be a process that both sides would have confidence in.

He added this was different to the UK accepting the jurisdiction of ECJ which would be “lopsided and partisan and that’s not on the cards”.

When asked about the inclusion of the word “direct” – and whether this means the UK would still accept some jurisdiction of the ECJ – he said the UK will keep “half an eye on EU law”, as the EU will do on the UK.

But Labour MP Chuka Umunna, speaking on behalf of Open Britain, said: “Nothing the government says it wants to deliver from Brexit – be it on trade, citizens’ rights, or judicial co-operation – can be achieved without a dispute resolution system involving some role for European judges.”

Dominic Raab
Dominic Raab said jurisdiction of the ECJ will end, but there will likely be some form of international arbitration

Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to take the UK out of the Luxembourg-based ECJ’s jurisdiction after Brexit.

At her party’s conference in October 2016, she said: “We are not leaving (the EU) only to return to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. That is not going to happen.”

And in January this year, in her Lancaster House speech, she reiterated this, saying: “So we will take back control of our laws and bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain.”

But the question of how future agreements between the UK and the EU will be enforced is proving contentious.

The policy paper will be released later as ministers argue there are plenty of other ways of resolving disputes without the European courts.

The ECJ is in charge of ensuring member states abide by EU law.

Its rulings are binding on all member states, and it also settles disputes between countries and EU institutions.

After the UK voted to leave the EU last year, Mrs May promised to make the UK a “fully independent, sovereign country”.

But pro-EU campaigners say the government made an “appalling error” by making leaving the ECJ a “red line” in Brexit negotiations, saying new courts will now be needed in all the areas it extends to, including trade, citizens’ rights and security.

European Court of Justice

  • Decides whether the institutions of the EU are acting legally, and settles disputes between them
  • Ensures that the member states of the EU are complying with their legal obligations as set out in the EU treaties; and allows member states to challenge EU legislation
  • Interprets EU law at the request of national courts

Brexit Secretary David Davis, who will resume negotiations with Brussels on 28 August, has spoken of the “arbitration arrangements” that will be needed in areas where the UK and the EU make new arrangements – but insists these will not involve the ECJ.

“If Manchester United goes to play Real Madrid, they don’t allow Real Madrid to nominate the referee,” he said last month.

Wednesday’s publication – the latest in a series of papers setting out the UK government’s stance on key issues – will say there are a “variety of precedents for resolving disputes that may arise between the UK and the EU” without the ECJ having direct jurisdiction.

These will need to include the free trade deal the UK hopes to strike with the EU to replace its membership of the single market.

Red lines ‘blurred’

Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said: “The prime minister’s ideological insistence that there can be no future role whatsoever for the ECJ or any similar court-like body risks preventing the deal Britain needs.”

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said Mrs May’s “red lines are becoming more blurred by the day”, saying the ECJ had “served Britain’s interests well” and should not be “trashed”.

The Institute of Directors called for “flexibility and pragmatism” when leaving the ECJ’s jurisdiction.

“The emphasis here should be on ending its direct effect, not trying to throw off the influence of the court altogether,” it said.

David Davis and Michel Barnier
Brexit negotiators David Davis and Michel Barnier do not agree on the role of the European Court of Justice after Brexit. Credit PA

On Monday, the president of the court of the European Free Trade Area (Efta) – which governs Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway’s relationship with the single market – suggested his institution could be used.

But this could anger some Eurosceptic Conservative MPs, because the Efta court, also based in Luxembourg, tends to follow closely the ECJ with its rulings.

‘Offering certainty’

The ECJ has also emerged as the central stumbling block in reaching a deal on the rights of EU nationals after Brexit.

The EU side believes the ECJ should have a role in enforcing these rights – a proposal rejected by the UK.

The UK government said its paper on Wednesday would offer maximum certainty to businesses and individuals. It will also suggest that dispute resolution mechanisms could be tailored to the issue at stake in each agreement.

“It is in the interests of both the UK and the EU, and of our citizens and businesses, that the rights and obligations agreed between us can be relied upon and enforced in appropriate ways,” a spokeswoman said.

“It is also in everyone’s interest that, where disputes arise between the UK and the EU on the application or interpretation of these obligations, those disputes can be resolved efficiently and effectively.”

UK sets out Brexit wish list on goods sold to EU

August 21, 2017


© AFP/File / by Ben PERRY | A third round of Brexit negotiations is due to be held next week

LONDON (AFP) – British goods placed on the market before Brexit should be sold in EU countries under current conditions even after the UK leaves the bloc, the British government said on Monday.The government also emphasised that current negotiations about the divorce are “inextricably” linked to future trade arrangements and should therefore be discussed at the same time.

In a paper ahead of the next round of UK-EU talks next week, the government said: “We want to ensure that goods which are placed on the market before exit day can continue to be sold in the UK and EU, without any additional requirements or restrictions.

“This means that where products have gone through an authorisation process prior to exit, for example a type approval for a car, this approval should remain valid in both markets after exit,” it said.

Britain’s Brexit minister David Davis said setting out the proposals “will help give businesses and consumers certainty and confidence in the UK’s status as an economic powerhouse” following Britain’s departure.

“It is clear that our separation from the EU and future relationship are inextricably linked,” he said.

– ‘Clock is ticking’ –

But there was a cool response from Brussels.

European Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein restated the EU position that there first has to be “sufficient progress” on three key issues: the rights of EU citizens, the financial settlement and the future of the Ireland-Northern Ireland border.

“The important thing to realise is that the clock is ticking, that we have no time to lose and that we need to get on with it,” he said.

A third round of Brexit negotiations is due to be held next week.

Last week, Britain laid out its desire for a “temporary customs union” with the European Union after Brexit but EU officials dismissed the proposal as “fantasy”.

The government proposed to continue for around two years the kind of tariff-free arrangements that apply now to EU-UK trade in goods, again to give businesses more time to adapt to new post-Brexit systems.

Britain’s biggest lobby group, the CBI, welcomed the UK’s latest proposals, while urging swift agreement between London and Brussels.

“The only way to provide companies with the reassurance they need is through the urgent agreement of interim arrangements,” CBI director of campaigns John Foster said in a statement.

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


by Ben PERRY
BBC News
Brexit: UK publishes more EU negotiation plans
EU flag and Big BenImage copyrightPA

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.”

David Davis
David Davis is eager to start trade talks. Credit PA

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.

Britain will issue Brexit position papers

August 20, 2017

LONDON — Britain will issue a cluster of new papers this week to outline its strategy positions in divorce talks with the European Union, ranging from regulation of goods to data protection, the UK’s Brexit department said on Sunday.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s government wants to push discussions with the EU beyond a focus on settling divorce arrangements to its future relationship with the bloc to bring clarity to anxious businesses, citizens and investors.

Chief negotiator for the European Union Michel Barnier, left, and Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis CREDIT: DURSUN AYDEMIR/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

Last week, Britain issued proposals for a future customs agreement with the EU and a solution for Northern Ireland to avoid a return of border posts with the Republic of Ireland which might inflame tensions.

Britain’s Brexit department said on Sunday it would issue two formal position papers this week along with a batch of proposals for discussions on future relations ahead of the next round of negotiations scheduled for later this month.

“In the coming days we will demonstrate our thinking even further, with five new papers – all part of our work to drive the talks forward, and make sure we can show beyond doubt that we have made sufficient progress on withdrawal issues by October so that we can move on to discuss our future relationship,” Britain’s Brexit minister David Davis said in a statement.


In July, the EU’s top Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said talks on future relations had become less likely to start in October because of a lack of progress on issues such as how much Britain should pay to leave the EU, the future rights of British and EU citizens, and how to manage a land border in Ireland

EU officials said progress had been difficult because Britain had no position at all on many issues and that an already-tight timetable could be delayed ahead of the scheduled March 2019 exit.

The release of a swathe of papers this week underlines Britain’s desire to counter that criticism.

One will be a technical paper dealing with services associated with the production, sale and distribution of goods, along with their operation and repair, which Britain’s Brexit department said should form part of the exit negotiations.

“It’s basically about ensuring that when we leave there isn’t a situation where goods on the market that have been validated and checked, all of sudden we have a need for businesses to have to go through compliance checks,” a spokesman said.

In another, the government will say it is important to establish a framework on confidentiality to ensure the current system for exchanging official documents is protected.

Further papers on the future relationship will be released outlining the UK’s plans for civil judicial cooperation with the EU, dispute resolution in light of Britain’s intention to end the European Court of Justice’s jurisdiction over British matters, and on data protection.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Andrew Bolton)

See also:

Brexit row: Britain demands free trade talks start by October despite EU resistance

‘No Deal’ With EU No Disaster for Post-Brexit U.K., Says Report

August 18, 2017


By Charlotte Ryan

August 17, 2017, 7:01 PM EDT
  • Britain should pursue trade regardless of EU ‘threats’: IEA
  • EU’s other 27 members make up U.K.’s biggest trade partner
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May

 Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

A U.K. trade deal with the European Union after Brexit is desirable but not essential, the Institute of Economic Affairs said, in support of Prime Minister Theresa May’s repeated assertion that no deal is better than a bad deal.

Britain should walk away from talks on a post-Brexit trade deal if the EU offers bad terms that lead to a protectionist and costly agreement, the IEA, a free-market think tank, said in a report on Friday. Instead, it said the country should trade with the EU under World Trade Organization rules, seeking a policy of zero tariffs while brokering free-trade agreements with major trading partners including the U.S.

“Many people believe that disaster will befall us if we do not forge a deal with the EU,” said Jamie Whyte, research director at the IEA. “In fact, we could unilaterally eliminate all import tariffs, which would give us most of the benefits of trade, and export to the EU under the umbrella of the WTO rules.”

Looming trade discussions are shaping up to be one of the trickiest tasks on the agenda of Brexit negotiators. Britain and its business lobby groups are seeking as “frictionless” as possible commerce with the EU post-Brexit, while EU politicians signal that Britain won’t be able to benefit from the same access once it’s no longer a member.

‘Fantasy’ Plans

For now, the talks are in abeyance, with the EU saying it will not discuss a future deal until the issues of citizens’ rights and Britain’s exit bill are resolved. The slow pace of talks so far has stoked fears Britain will leave the EU before trade talks conclude.

The IEA paper comes days after the U.K. released a document on customs which Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s point person on Brexit, derided as a “fantasy.” In a tacit acknowledgment that time is ticking down, Britain is seeking a transition period between Brexit day in March 2019 and the day when new trade arrangements can set in. During that period, the U.K. would leave the EU’s customs Union, allowing it to broker new trade deals with third countries, but customs arrangements with the bloc would be largely unchanged.

Trade will not stop after Brexit even if the two sides fail to agree to a deal, the IEA said. Instead, the exchange of goods would continue under WTO rules, which would prevent the EU from charging punitive taxes on goods, while tariffs would hurt EU consumers, according to the policy analyst. It recommended that Britain unilaterally get rid of such duties with trade partners including Europe, while encouraging them to do the same.

Bargaining Chip

“Compared to an outcome in which the U.K. and the EU traded under WTO terms, there would be benefits for the U.K. to unilaterally liberalizing as it would reduce the cost of imports,” said Thomas Sampson, an economist at the London School of Economics, who hadn’t seen the IEA report. “The cost is you’re giving away the bargaining chip that you would normally use to get concessions out of the EU.”

The U.K. should pursue its own trade policy regardless of “threats” from the EU, the IEA said. The country could seek free-trade agreements with countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand and use a tariff-free approach to become a “super-Singapore or super-Dubai.”

However, Sampson cautioned against dismissing the importance of the EU when negotiating future deals. The bloc is the U.K.’s largest trading partner accounting for almost half of all imports and exports in 2016.

“The U.K.’s priority should be to do everything it can to secure an agreement with the EU,” he said. “The potential gains from securing an ambitious new agreement with the EU are much larger than those of negotiating with the U.S. or any other country.”

Britain Confident of Making Progress in Brexit Talks by October

August 17, 2017


AUG. 17, 2017, 4:15 A.M. E.D.T.

LONDON — Britain is confident it will make “sufficient progress” in negotiations with the European Union by October to move on to the next phase of the talks and discuss future ties with the bloc, the government said on Thursday.

After a slow start to negotiations to unravel more than 40 years of union, Prime Minister Theresa May’s government is keen for the discussion to move beyond the EU’s focus on a divorce settlement to consider how a new relationship could work.

But the bloc has repeated that before there is “sufficient progress” in the first stage of talks on the rights of expatriates, Britain’s border with EU member Ireland and a financial settlement, officials cannot consider future ties.

Last month, the EU’s top Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told ambassadors from the 27 countries that will remain in the bloc that talks on future ties were less likely to start in October.

“Government officials are working at pace and we are confident we will have made sufficient progress by October to advance the talks to the next phase,” a spokeswoman for the Department for Exiting the European Union said in a statement.

“As the Secretary of State (Brexit minister David Davis) has said, it is important that both sides demonstrate a dynamic and flexible approach to each round of the negotiations.”

The British side is understood to believe that progress has been made during four days of talks, despite bleating from EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier (pictured right with David Davis in Brussels today) about a lack of 'clarity' on the UK's position

On Wednesday, unidentified sources were quoted by Britain’s Sky News as saying the two sides might have to delay talks on their post-Brexit relationship until December because they would not make the progress required by the EU.

Britain published proposals for the border between Ireland and the province of Northern Ireland on Wednesday, saying there should be no border posts or immigration checks to avoid a return to a ‘hard border’.

It was aimed at tackling one of the most difficult aspects of the talks and was welcomed by the Irish government.

But perhaps a more tricky part of the talks is how much Britain should pay the EU when it leaves in March 2019. While saying it will meet its responsibilities on the so-called Brexit bill, Britain has also questioned some suggestions from the EU that it must pay around 60 billion euros.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)


UK to seek Irish border waivers on customs and food safety after Brexit

Britain reveals plan to ask for exemptions for all small traders and farmers as it pursues goal of avoiding EU border posts

Traffic crossing the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in the village of Bridgend, Co Donegal.
 Traffic crossing the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in Bridgend, Co Donegal. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Britain will seek a series of waivers for goods and people crossing the Northern Ireland border under new plans that risk creating a “back door” with the European Union after Brexit.

The government aims to avoid the need for border posts with Ireland when the UK leaves the EU, an ambitious goal seen as essential to preserving the Good Friday peace agreement.

“The UK and Ireland have been clear all along that we need to prioritise protecting the Belfast agreement in these negotiations, and ensure the land border is as seamless as possible for people and businesses,” said David Davis, the UK’s Brexit secretary.

Details of the plan unveiled by Whitehall officials have, however, sparked a series of difficult questions about what the knock-on impact of having no border may be for wider EU-UK relation


The issue of the Irish border is a priority for the next round of Brexit talks, due to resume in two weeks. However, some senior government figures now concede privately that the talks may not move on to the substantive issue of Britain’s future relationship with the European Union until December, cutting the time left for complex discussions before the two-year article 50 deadline.

One cabinet minister with knowledge of the negotiations told the Guardian on Wednesday it is “impossible to know” whether they will succeed in tying up initial questions, including the withdrawal bill, by October, as they had previously hoped.

When the talks do resume, Britain will ask for an exemption for all small traders and farmers from a host of customs, agricultural and food safety checks. In return, it aims to seek “regulatory equivalence” with the EU to try to avoid the need for inspections of live animals and billions of pounds worth of goods.

Officials refuse to speculate what consequences this may have for limiting the scope of trade agreements with non-compliant countries such as the US. Without matching regulations, the EU could block imports, fearing that the open border was a back door into its consumer market.

Similar fears of a back door in the labour market were put to officials when they revealed there would be nothing to stop EU economic migrants travelling through the Republic of Ireland and into the UK under a continuation of the common travel area scheme. The government believes it can limit the impact of any such undocumented immigration through tighter checks on UK work permits.

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Britain threatens to impose VAT and customs duties on EU imports if there is no Brexit deal

August 15, 2017

The Telegraph


Britain is threatening to introduce new laws to impose VAT and customs duties on all goods from the European Union if no Brexit deal can be agreed, the Government said today.

 Time to talk trade: British negotiators say the current structure of the Brexit talks is not working CREDIT: AP

MPs and peers will legislate to impose new custom duties and VAT tariffs on trade with the EU in case no deal can be agreed by March 2019.

A detailed 14 page blueprint entitled Future Customs Arrangements for the UK also disclosed that Whitehall officials are in a race against time to get up to date customs computer ready for Brexit.

Ministers will publish a Customs Bill and Trade Bill to bring in UK law EU trading rules.

The document made clear that without any deal “the UK would treat trade with the EU as it currently treats trade with non-EU countries.

The British side is understood to believe that progress has been made during four days of talks, despite bleating from EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier (pictured right with David Davis in Brussels today) about a lack of 'clarity' on the UK's position

“Customs duty and import VAT would be due on EU imports. Traders would need to be registered.

“Traders exporting to the EU would have to submit an exploration declaration,…

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EU Again Scolding UK: Once the UK has become a third country, terms of the relationship can be discussed

August 15, 2017



© AFP | Britain’s Brexit minister wants talks on a transitional period after Britain quits the EU to ease the shock of the change
BRUSSELS (AFP) – The European Union repeated Tuesday it would not address the issue of Britain’s future partnership with the bloc post-Brexit until progress had first been made on the terms of withdrawal.Responding to a new British position paper released Tuesday, a European Commission spokesman noted Britain’s proposal for a temporary customs union after leaving the EU.

But, he added: “We will only address them once we have made sufficient progress on the terms of the orderly withdrawal.”

Britain’s membership of the EU customs union, which currently allows for the tariff-free movement of goods, will end along with its membership of the single market when it leaves the bloc in March 2019.

It wants to negotiate transitional arrangements to soften the effect of Brexit.

One option its Department for Exiting the EU suggested in a statement Tuesday is “a temporary customs union between the UK and the EU.” It will publish a full paper on that proposal later Tuesday.

The Brexit ministry said Britain wanted to be able to sign free trade agreements with third countries during the transition period, although these would only be implemented at the end of it.

– A transitional period –

Brexit minister David Davis told BBC radio on Tuesday that the transition period could last “something like two years” and would have to be over by the time of the next general election, which is set for 2022.

But a Commission spokesman insisted Tuesday that “an agreement on a future relationship between the EU and the UK can only be finalised once the UK has become a third country.

“As Michel Barnier has said on several occasions, ‘frictionless trade’ is not possible outside the Single Market and Customs Union,” the EU spokesman said.

Barnier is the chief negotiator for the EU in the Brexit talks.

Experts have warned it will be extremely difficult to negotiate a new EU-UK free trade agreement before Britain leaves the bloc — particularly as Brussels has so far refused even to start trade talks.

The EU says there must first be broad agreement on three key issues: Britain’s financial settlement, expatriate rights, and the status of the border between British-controlled Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Britain will publish its proposals on the Northern Ireland border issue on Wednesday, before the third round of Brexit negotiations in Brussels at the end of the month.

The EU itself is currently working on another series of position papers, “including one on customs issues related to the orderly withdrawal of the UK,” the EU statement said, without indicating when it would be published.

The next round of Brexit negotiations between Britain and the EU is scheduled for the week beginning August 28.

UK hopes not to pay for interim customs deal, David Davis says

August 15, 2017


AUGUST 15, 2017 / 2:44 AM

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing and suit

Brexit Secretary David Davis. Carl Court – Getty

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain should not have to pay to have a customs union during an interim period after leaving the European Union, Brexit Secretary David Davis said on Tuesday.

Britain has proposed setting up an interim customs agreement with the European Union after Brexit to allow the freest possible trade of goods. Britain has suggested introducing a temporary customs union.

When asked on ITV television if Britain would have to pay to stay in the EU customs union temporarily, Brexit minister Davis said: “No, I don’t think (so). Well what happens in that interim period you have to leave to me to negotiate.”

Asked how the Brexit negotiations were going on a personal level, Davis said: “Er, fine”.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Kate Holton; editing by Michael Holden


Bloomberg News

Britain Wants an Interim Customs Union With EU to Smooth Brexit Path

August 14, 2017, 4:53 PM EDT August 14, 2017, 5:50 PM EDT
  • Proposal set out as part of series of Brexit position papers
  • Next round of talks scheduled in Brussels starting Aug. 28

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The U.K. government said it wants to maintain tariff-free, bureaucracy-light trade with the European Union for a period after Brexit and perhaps permanently, a proposal likely to raise eyebrows on the continent but which was cheered by British businesses.

Theresa May

Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

Ahead of the publication Tuesday of the first of a series of new papers aimed at fleshing out its ambitions for future relations with the EU, Britain said it will seek to negotiate a “close association” with the bloc’s customs union for an unspecified amount of time after it leaves in March 2019.

Industry lobby groups expressed relief having repeatedly warned against the potential for duties, border controls and regulatory uncertainty on commerce with the U.K.’s biggest market the day after Brexit.

The road map, though, will likely run into opposition from the EU, given the U.K.’s suggestion it be allowed to line up trade accords with other countries during the interim period, something remaining fully inside the customs union would prevent. The EU has repeatedly warned the U.K. against cherry picking the advantages of membership and that it won’t be able to enjoy frictionless trade outside its ranks.

Read more about Britain’s options for a trade deal with the EU

While the bloc’s 27 other governments have said they are open to a post-Brexit implementation phase, they first want to resolve matters such as citizens’ rights and a financial settlement. Divorce talks are set to resume in Brussels on Aug. 28 and the EU’s lead negotiator, Michel Barnier, has complained of a lack of progress in the first two rounds.

The U.K. is showing more of its hand after a summer in which members of Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet forged a consensus around supporting a transitional period after Brexit, although there are differences over how long it should run. Tuesday’s blueprint will be seen as a victory for Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond who has advocated as smooth a departure as possible from the EU.

David Davis

Photographer: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg

Britain’s goal “is to secure as frictionless trade as possible with the EU alongside the ability to forge trade deals around the world, and avoiding a hard border with Ireland,” Brexit Secretary David Davis’s department said in a statement. It also wants to “negotiate bold new trade relationships around the world.”

The Brexit department said the interim period it imagines would enable both sides of the English Channel to establish future customs arrangements to ease border crossings. The U.K.’s public-spending watchdog warned last month of a “horror show” if new systems were not in place by the time of Brexit.

Non-Tariff Barriers

Failure to maintain something akin to the status quo could prove costly for the British. The current arrangement saves U.K. exporters from paying tariffs on goods sold to the EU. Countries outside the region and lacking a free-trade accord with it pay about 10 percent on shipments of cars alone.

Potentially more expensive are non-tariff barriers. Customs checks at a U.K.-EU border such as proving the origin of goods could cost 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) a year and snarl traffic in both directions, according to a July report by Oxera, an economic consultancy.

The customs office calculates that in two years’ time there will be 255 million declarations per year based on current levels of trade with the EU, up from 55 million now. Carmakers worry such bureaucracies would hurt their ability to ship vehicles and source inputs in a timely fashion, while retailers risk watching goods perish at borders.

“Business wants to see as frictionless a customs system as possible,” Confederation of British Industry Deputy Director-General Josh Hardie said in a statement. “All efforts should be made to deliver a single-step transition, so that businesses don’t have to adapt twice.”

TheCityUK, which represents the finance sector, said the government must conduct “urgent” talks to support services, which make up a larger share of the U.K. economy.

Open Britain, a group that lobbies for close ties with the EU, accused May’s government of “having our cake and eating it.”

“It is a fantasy to pretend we can have the freest and most frictionless trade possible with our largest partner when the government remain intent on pulling Britain out of the customs union,” said Chris Leslie, a lawmaker in the opposition Labour Party.

‘Not Possible’

Barnier warned in July that it was “not possible” for Britain to enjoy as easy trade with the EU as it does now, pointing to the need to comply with tax returns and test animal products among other obstacles.

A customs union-like relationship would help clear up the matter of how to police the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said earlier this month that a new customs union should be designed to avoid the need for controls on the 310-mile (500-kilometer) frontier which forms the EU’s only land link with the U.K.

The Irish issue will be detailed more fully by the British on Wednesday when they publish another paper that will express a commitment to keeping a “seamless and frictionless” border on the island.

The U.K. said ultimately it would like to see as few hurdles to commerce as possible between it and the EU. That could mean designing “highly streamlined customs arrangements” or aligning approaches to “negate the need for” any border, it said.