Posts Tagged ‘European Union’

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…

Read the rest:


 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.

Crawford Falconer takes up post as UK’s top trade negotiator — “Open markets at the core of the post-war global order.”

August 21, 2017

BBC News

Liam Fox and Crawford Falconer
Crawford Falconer, right, will begin his new job this week

The man in charge of negotiating the UK’s trade deals once Brexit is finalised, starts his job this week.

Crawford Falconer will take up the post of chief trade negotiation adviser at the Department for International Trade.

Leaving the single market would mean the UK would have to establish new bilateral trade agreements, but cannot formally do so until after Brexit.

However, one economist suggested Mr Falconer would already be “building bridges” with the European Commission.

The UK faces a huge challenge in resetting its trading relationship with the EU and other countries when Brexit takes effect.

Trade pacts that have been negotiated by the EU with the rest of the world will no longer apply to the UK, while Britain will also need to define new trading relationships with the EU itself.

Membership of the EU has meant the UK does not have a large bank of trade negotiators with recent experience.

A New Zealander, Mr Falconer has more than 25 years trade experience. He has represented New Zealand at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and held various posts in foreign and trade affairs in his home country.

Prof Alan Winters, from the University of Sussex’s UK Trade Policy Observatory, said Mr Falconer’s experience and contacts at the WTO would mean the groundwork for separating UK trade policy from Brussels would be made easier.

“He knows quite a lot of the main players at the WTO and can build bridges at the European Council, which is good as there is work to be done right now,” he said.

“There is work he can do, such as discussions on whether the UK uses replicas or changes trade agreements that we have with nations by way of membership with the EU.”

One suggestion has been that initially trade agreements could be adopted by the UK in their current form – replicating them – at the point of Brexit, to be altered subsequently as new deals are agreed.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said of the new appointee: “Crawford Falconer brings a wealth of international trade expertise to our international economic department, ensuring that as we leave the EU, the UK will be at the forefront of global free trade and driving the case for international openness.”

Mr Falconer will lead trade policy and negotiation teams at the DIT. His appointment was first announced in June.

See also:

Britain’s post-Brexit trade deals will make world safer place, new trade chief vows


THE Government’s new chief trade negotiation adviser has said the trade deals Britain can strike after Brexit could help boost global security.

Crawford Falconer tells The Telegraph that Britain will lead efforts to avoid conflict by creating new trade allies around the world.

Crawford Falconer, the Government’s new chief trade negotiation adviser, said the trade deals Britain can strike after Brexit could help boost global security

Crawford Falconer, the Government’s new chief trade negotiation adviser, said the trade deals Britain can strike after Brexit could help boost global security

Last week, the Government conceded that the UK will not be able to implement any free trade agreements under a proposed customs transition deal which will expire around two years after Brexit in March 2019.

But Mr Falconer, who will work alongside International Trade Secretary Liam Fox from this week, says that the UK can help promote stability by striking deals with nations that want to benefit from the country’s democratic reputation

He said: “There is a powerful political and security element to getting this right.

“History is littered with instances of the destructive political consequences of closed markets.

“This was a lesson well understood at the end of the last century’s global conflicts

“It was at the core of the post-war global order.”

He added:”And the UK was nothing less than one of the chief architects of that order.

“Many countries still recognise that open trade policies directed at engaging with others are at the core of any strategy to improve the global prospects for political openness and stability. They are already looking to partner with us to re-energise that agenda.”

Mr Falconer is an experienced trade negotiator who also served as New Zealand’s ambassador to the World Trade Organization.

It comes as The Daily Express reports how Britain has seen £50billion invested in the UK and the promise of 44,000 new jobs since the Brexit vote.

Change Britain campaign group found firms from around the world were bringing their business to the UK.

Chairwoman Gisela Stuart, a former Labour MP and Leave campaigner, told the newspaper: “Workers and businesses will continue to prosper once we’ve left the EU as we begin to strike our own free trade deals with growing economies around the world, spreading wealth and creating jobs throughout the UK.”

Britain’s voters must have a second referendum on Brexit

August 20, 2017

Leavers’ dreams of a country cast free of Brussels are unravelling as reality and the risks of going it alone set in
Nigel Farage with European Union commission president Jean-Claude Juncker at EU headquarters in Brussels last June, three weeks after the referendum.
 Nigel Farage with European Union commission president Jean-Claude Juncker at EU headquarters in Brussels last June, three weeks after the referendum. Photograph: John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

Last week, the government set out key elements of its strategy for achieving Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. It seeks a soft landing to a hard Brexit. It wants a time-limited transition period after March 2019, when Britain is due to leave the bloc. During that period, the government hopes for a “close association with the EU customs union”. When it ends, Britain will leave the customs union but seek “a new customs arrangement” that preserves “the freest and most frictionless trade possible” and Britain will then seek a free trade agreement.

These proposals are beset with ambiguity and difficulty, although the idea of a transitional agreement has been welcomed by business. Brexiters fear – and some Remainers hope – that at the end of the transitional period it will be found to have been so comfortable that it will be extended. In that case, Britain would, to a significant degree, remain in the EU, but as a de facto satellite rather than a participating member.

Remainers put too much faith in the transitional agreement. Business seeks certainty so that new investment can be undertaken without fear that market conditions will radically alter. A transitional agreement cannot provide this. It merely offers a stay of execution. A company seeking to decide whether to invest is not helped by being told that the period of uncertainty, instead of being 18 months, will be prolonged for a further two years.

But business also seeks a business-friendly final agreement. That also seems problematic. If Britain seeks merely a free trade agreement, it would be natural for her to join the European Free Trade Association, which Britain left when she joined the EU in 1973. But that does nothing for services nor for the non-tariff barriers that constitute so important an element in modern international trade.

That is why, of the four Efta members, three – Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – are also members of the European Economic Area, which involves, in return for access to the internal market, accepting the principle of free movement, together with many of the laws of the EU.

The fourth member of Efta – Switzerland – is not a member of the EEA, but has a series of about 120 cumbrous bilateral agreements with Brussels so as to secure access to the internal market. These agreements require the transposition of European Union law into Swiss domestic law, so that Switzerland too accepts many of the laws of the bloc.

Turkey, which perhaps enjoys the kind of “close association” with the EU customs union that the government has in mind, has a customs agreement with Brussels. But, when the bloc signs a free trade agreement with a third country, Turkey’s markets are opened to that third country and so those same countries have no incentive to sign separate trade deals with her.

The third country’s markets, however, are not necessarily opened to Turkey – because she is not a member of the EU and Turkey has no vote on the union’s trade or commercial policy. She has to submit to regulation without representation. Turkey does not even receive, in return, frictionless trade, as anyone who has seen the queues of lorries at the Bulgarian border – some 1,000 trucks a day, gridlocked, with their drivers cursing the seemingly endless paperwork – can testify. Turkey, therefore, is not a model for Britain, but a warning.

The British government, however, favours a bespoke free trade agreement, one specifically tailored to British needs. What the negotiators hope for is an agreement offering some of the advantages of the customs union and the internal market without the obligations of EU membership. In Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel The Leopard, the hero’s nephew, Tancredi, declares that everything needs to change so that everything can stay the same. The negotiators would like Britain’s obligations to the EU to change while the benefits stay the same.

It is not clear why Brussels should agree to such an arrangement, which will seem to the member states to be a form of reward to a member state that is leaving because it no longer wishes to pay the subscription or accept the obligations attached to membership.

The EU does not have a frictionless customs border with any country outside the single market or customs union. Indeed, Michel Barnier, the EU commission’s chief negotiator, confirmed last week that such an arrangement was not logically possible and the bloc has not so far allowed any country to obtain the benefits of the internal market or the customs union without imposing obligations in the form of obedience to EU laws.

Theresa May, it is often forgotten, was a Remainer in 2016 and inherited a crisis not of her making. She has now secured a document around which the various elements in her cabinet can unite. But, inevitably, the real choices are obscured. For unless Britain is prepared to accept EU laws that she has no role in formulating, there seems no middle way between accepting the logic of Brexit, which means leaving the internal market and the customs union or remaining.

The Brexiters, however, hope for benefits outside the EU. For many Conservatives, the logic of Brexit was a resurrection of Thatcherism. They wanted Britain to become a free trade global hub, purged of tariffs, subsidies and regulations, a European Singapore. But whatever the merits of that solution, the election has clearly shown that there is no majority for it in the country.

Other benefits sought by Brexiters may be slow in arriving. Trade deals with third countries will take time to negotiate, as Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, discovered when he stepped into a controversy over chlorinated chicken while in Washington; and, whatever the merits of the American system of separation of powers, it does not make for speedy congressional ratification of treaties. Meanwhile, the cheque for the £350m a week for the National Health Service promised in the referendum seems to have been lost in the post.

The election showed that Brexit continues to divide the British people. Some have argued that the country is united around it since 87% of voters – the total percentage of votes cast for the two major parties – supported parties favouring Brexit. But that is absurd. For, clearly, many Remainers voted Conservative or Labour and there is evidence that the swing to Labour was caused in part by Remainers seeking revenge.

The truth is that both Conservatives and Labour are divided on Brexit. The majority of MPs and the majority in the cabinet voted Remain. For this reason, whatever the outcome of the negotiations, the government might find it difficult to secure parliamentary support for the deal. Indeed, it might have to rely on Labour votes to achieve it. The angst that this would cause could lead to serious ructions in the Conservative party. In March 2019, therefore, Tories may well come to the view that there is a stronger case for another referendum than they currently believe.

In the New StatesmanGeorge Eaton argues that to hold another referendum would show disrespect to those who voted last year by 52% to 48% for Brexit. However, Nigel Farage told the Daily Mirror on 16 May last year – 38 days before the referendum – that “in a 52-48 referendum this would be unfinished business by a long way”. The BBC quoted him as saying that “there could be an unstoppable demand for a rerun of the EU referendum if Remain wins by a narrow margin”. “Win or lose this battle,” Farage declared, “we will win this war.”

Brexiters can hardly deny to their opponents the same democratic right that they claim for themselves, unless they secretly fear that the British public has, in fact, had second thoughts. The sovereignty of the people, after all, did not come to a sudden end on 5 June 2016. Finality, Disraeli said, is not the language of politics.

By March 2019, the outlines of the deal should be reasonably clear, since the withdrawal agreement is required to take into account “the framework of its future relationship with the union”.

That framework will need to be approved by parliament. But it can be legitimised only by the people through a referendum, which would either endorse it or show that voters no longer wished to leave the European Union.

Vernon Bogdanor is professor of government, King’s College, London

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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German Court Sends ECB Challenge to European Court

August 15, 2017

BERLIN — Germany’s top court has declined to hear a series of challenges to the European Central Bank’s bond-buying stimulus program, referring them instead to the European Court of Justice.

The dpa news agency reports Tuesday that those against the program claimed it constituted illegal budget financing and that Germany’s central bank should not be participating.

The Federal Constitutional Court ruled that because the challenge was about European Union regulations, it was up to the European court to decide.

The ECB’s 2.28 trillion euro ($2.7 trillion) bond-purchasing program is only due to run through 2017, raising the question of whether the case can be heard before the program has already ended.

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.