Posts Tagged ‘Michel Barnier’

UK sets out Brexit wish list on goods sold to EU

August 21, 2017

AFP

© 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.

burs-bcp/dt/txw

by Ben PERRY
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BBC News
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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.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-40997985

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.

TIGHT TIMETABLE

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

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/19/brexit-row-britain-demands-free-trade-talks-start-october-despite/

Britain Confident of Making Progress in Brexit Talks by October

August 17, 2017

By REUTERS

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)

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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.

Read the rest:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/aug/16/uk-to-seek-irish-border-waivers-on-customs-and-food-safety-after-brexit

 

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

August 15, 2017

The Telegraph

By 

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,…

Read the rest:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/15/britain-threatens-impose-vat-customs-duties-eu-imports-no-brexit/

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UK ministers to release Brexit position papers amid criticism

August 13, 2017

UK government ministers are to publish new papers setting out their aims for Brexit talks. Fourteen months after the referendum, there has been little progress in talks on the terms for the UK’s exit from the bloc.

An EU flag with a ripped British flag inside the ring of stars (Picture-alliance/Bildagentur-online/Ohde)

Last month, European Union officials trying to negotiate with the UK over Britain’s departure from the bloc complained that progress was difficult because of Britain’s unacceptable demands and a lack of any position on many issues.

The UK Department for Exiting the European Union said Sunday it hoped to persuade the 27 other EU nations to start negotiating a “deep and special” future relationship to include a free trade deal between Britain and the EU.

But Brussels negotiators have insisted there are three issues to be sorted before a new relationship can be discussed. The first is how much money the UK will have to pay to leave the bloc, the second addresses whether security checks and customs duties will be imposed at the Irish border and the third deals with the status of EU nationals living in the UK.

Estimates of how much Britain will have to pay to fulfill its obligations from the period of its membership until March 2019 are in the tens of billions of euros range but estimates vary widely among EU and UK politicians and economists.

Brexit timeline

Clarity required

“Businesses and citizens in the UK and EU want to see the talks progress and move towards discussing a deal that works for both sides,” the department said in a statement. “We’ve been crystal clear that issues around our withdrawal and our future partnership are inextricably linked, and the negotiations so far have reinforced that view,” a source in Britain’s Brexit department told UK newspapers and news agencies.

The announcement appeared to be an attempt to mask over an apparent lack of unity within the ruling Conservative party on how to proceed with the Brexit.

Writing for the Daily Telegraph, the remain-backing Finance Minister Philip Hammond and the Eurosceptic Trade Minister Liam Fox said Britain would leave the EU in March 2019, there would be a short “interim period” to smooth the transition during which Britain would not be party to EU treaties and after that Britain would become fully independent.

The UK would seek a close partnership with Europe on “security, trade and commerce” the ministers wrote. However, there was no indication as to the length of the transition and the overall costs.

London's financial sector may lose international banks to Frankfurt, Paris, Dublin and AmsterdamLondon’s financial sector may lose international banks to Frankfurt, Paris, Dublin and Amsterdam

Next meeting, new papers

Brexit Secretary David Davis is to hold a third round of talks with the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, in Brussels at the end of the month. Barnier has expressed concern that the first two rounds have failed to produce clarity on the key issues and that there was “a clock ticking” toward the date in 2019 when Britain would be out of the bloc.

The UK government said it was preparing several papers, including plans for a new customs arrangement and for the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The British ministers also promised a series of papers on their ideas for a “Future Partnership” with the EU to be presented in the run-up to October’s European Council.

 jm/sms (Reuters, AP)

Philip Hammond and Liam Fox in post-Brexit deal call

August 13, 2017

BBC News

Philip Hammond and Liam Fox
Philip Hammond and Liam Fox have previously held opposing views on the Brexit process. Reuters photo

The UK will need a transition period to help businesses adjust after Brexit, the chancellor and the international trade secretary have said.

In a joint Sunday Telegraph article, Philip Hammond and Liam Fox stressed any deal would not be indefinite or a “back door” to staying in the EU.

Their comments are being seen as an attempt to show unity between rival sides in Theresa May’s cabinet.

It comes as ministers start to set out their detailed aims for Brexit.

A series of papers are being published, including one this week covering what will happen to the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic after the UK has left the EU.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Hammond and Mr Fox said the UK definitely will leave both the customs union and the single market when it exits the EU in March 2019.

They said a “time-limited” transition period would “further our national interest and give business greater certainty” – but warned it would not stop Brexit.

EU official hanging a Union Jack flag next to an EU flag

“We are both clear that during this period the UK will be outside the single market and outside the customs union and will be a ‘third-country’ not party to EU treaties,” they said. Reuters photo

They said the UK’s borders “must continue to operate smoothly”, that goods bought on the internet “must still cross borders”, and “businesses must still be able to supply their customers across the EU” in the weeks and months after Brexit.

The two leading politicians said the government wanted to ensure “there will not be a cliff-edge when we leave the EU”.

Cabinet unity

BBC political correspondent Ben Wright said Mr Hammond – who is seen to favour a “softer” approach to Brexit – and Mr Fox, one of the most prominent pro-Brexit ministers, had “previously appeared at loggerheads” over the government’s strategy on leaving the EU.

Mr Hammond has raised the prospect of a Brexit deal that saw little immediate change on issues such as immigration – something Brexiteers have rejected.

But our correspondent said their article was an attempt to “prove cabinet unity on Brexit”.

David Miliband
David Miliband said Brexit was an “unparalleled act of economic self-harm”  GETTY IMAGES

Meanwhile, former Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband has called for politicians on all sides to unite to fight back against the “worst consequences” of Brexit.

He described the outcome of last year’s referendum as an “unparalleled act of economic self-harm”.

Writing in the Observer, he said: “People say we must respect the referendum. We should. But democracy did not end on June 23, 2016.

“The referendum will be no excuse if the country is driven off a cliff.”

Negotiations between Brexit Secretary David Davis and EU officials are set to resume at the end of this month.

Mr Davis said the publication of the papers outlining the government’s aims for Brexit would mark “an important next step” towards delivering the referendum vote to leave the EU.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-40914604

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See also The Telegraph

Britain will not stay in EU by the back door, Philip Hammond and Liam Fox jointly declare

 
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Dr Fox, the International Trade Secretary, bury the hatchet with a joint pledge that there will be a fixed transition period after leaving the EU.  CREDIT:REUTERS

Britain will not stay in the European Union by the “backdoor” and will completely leave the single market and customs union after Brexit in 2019, Philip Hammond and Liam Fox have declared.

After a summer of bitter Cabinet infighting, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Dr Fox, the International Trade Secretary, appear to bury the hatchet with a joint pledge that there will be a fixed transition period after leaving the EU.

In an article written for the Telegraph, the ministers – representing the Remain and Leave wings of the Tory party –  say this will be “time limited” and designed to avoid a “cliff edge” that could damage British business.

Although they do not say how long this period will last, it will not represent an attempt to stay in the EU indefinitely, they say.

Dr Fox

Dr Fox, the International Trade Secretary, has made a joint pledge with Philip Hammond that there will be a fixed transition period after leaving the EU.  CREDIT: AP

Theresa May, who returns to work after her walking holiday this week, will be hoping that the declaration of resolve by…

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/12/britain-will-not-stay-eu-back-door-philip-hammond-liam-fox-declare/

UK “Push Back” on Claims It’s Unprepared in Brexit Talks

August 13, 2017

The Department for Exiting the European Union said Sunday that it would release the first set of position papers this week, more than a year after Britons voted in a referendum to leave the European Union.

The government says it hopes to persuade the 27 other EU nations to start negotiating a “deep and special” future relationship that would include a free trade deal between Britain and the EU.

The EU says those negotiations can’t start until sufficient progress has been made on three initial issues: how much money the U.K. will have to pay to leave the bloc; whether security checks and customs duties will be instituted on the Irish border; and the status of EU nationals living in Britain.

The exit bill, estimated at tens of billions of euros, is to cover pension liabilities for EU staff and programs Britain committed to funding over the next few years.

The government’s Brexit department said Britain wants to show that progress on the preliminary issues has been made and “we are ready to broaden out the negotiations” by the time of an EU summit in October.

“Businesses and citizens in the U.K. and EU want to see the talks progress and move towards discussing a deal that works for both sides,” the department said in a statement.

EU officials have expressed impatience with the pace of Britain’s preparations.

The bloc’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said last month there was “a clock ticking” on the talks. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said last week that Brexit advocates “already had 14 months” to issue detailed proposals, but had not.

Barnier is due to meet Britain’s Brexit minister, David Davis, for a new round of negotiations at the end of August.

Britain voted to leave the EU in June 2016, but did not trigger the formal two-year exit process until March.

Prime Minister Theresa May then called a snap election in an attempt to increase her Conservative Party’s majority in Parliament and strengthen her negotiating hand. But voters did not rally to her call, leaving May atop a weakened minority government.

In recent weeks, with May on her summer vacation, members of her Cabinet have openly disagreed about what direction Brexit should take.

UK to cap Brexit fee at 40 billion euros

August 6, 2017

London will agree to pay up to 40 billion euros to quit the EU, not a cent more, according to a report. It’s much less than the EU wants.

Belgien - Brexit-Verhandlungen mit Barnier und Davis in Brüssel (Reuters/F. Lenoir)

British officials are likely to offer to pay 10 billion euros per year for three years after leaving the EU in March 2019 and finalize the total amount during detailed subsequent trade talks, with the total over the period not exceeding 40 billion euros, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

The EU has talked of a figure of 60 billion euros, while French economy minister Bruno Le Maire said in July that the UK owes the EU 100 billion euros, including commitments to EU programs, such as cohesion funds for new infrastructure in Eastern Europe and refugee programs in Turkey and Libya.

London argues that as a net contributor over four decades it has a right to tens of billions of pounds of EU assets but has not yet given an official indication of how much it would be willing to pay.

“We know (the EU’s) position is 60 billion euros, but the actual bottom line is 50 billion euros. Ours is closer to 30 billion euros but the actual landing zone is 40 billion euros, even if the public and politicians are not all there yet,” the Sunday Telegraph quoted one “senior Whitehall source” saying.

Carts before horses?

The EU, meanwhile, wants agreement by October on the rights of EU citizens in Britain and border controls between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland before trade and other issues are discussed.

Brussels is also reportedly prepared to take Britain to court if it does not agree on the Brexit divorce bill, something that some extreme Brexiteers in the ruling Conservative Party have threatened.

Foreign minister, Boris Johnson, for example, said in July that the EU could “go whistle” if it made “extortionate” demands for payment.

In March the Dutch magazine De Volkskrant reported that EU negotiators have drawn up plans to take Britain to the International Court in The Hague.

Opening sticking points or fundamental blockages?

Brussels in May increased its initial 60 billion euro settlement by a further 40 billion euros after including post-Brexit farm payments and admin fees following stricter demands by France and Germany, according to the Financial Times.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said then that no firm figure will be set until the end of the Brexit process and that payments could be staggered.

David Davis, the British minister in charge of Brexit talks, said on July 20 that the UK would honor its obligations to the EU, although the House of Lords EU Financial Affairs committee said earlier the UK would not be legally obliged to pay the EU’s demanded divorce bill if no deal was worked out by the end of the two-year negotiating window.

Questions concern – inter alia – how to calculate the pension costs of the 55,000 UK civil servants in the EU and valuing EU assets (buildings, cars, wine stocks in EU-restaurants) that Britain has contributed, as well as the EU’s budgetary commitments that Britain has committed itself to.

If Britain cannot conclude an exit deal, trade relations would be governed by World Trade Organization rules, which would allow both parties to impose tariffs and customs checks and leave many other issues unsettled.

De Volkskrant reported that the EU will only give access to the Single Market if the UK accepts the four freedoms: of movement, capital, goods and services.

jbh/bw (Reuters, AFP)

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UK ready to pay £36bn Brexit bill, but only if EU talks trade

August 6, 2017
Time to talk trade: British negotiators say the current structure of the Brexit talks is not workingCREDIT: AP

Britain is prepared to pay up to £36 billion to the EU to settle the so-called Brexit divorce bill, The Telegraph can reveal.

Senior Whitehall officials have concluded that such an offer – the first time a precise figure has been proposed – is the only way to break the current deadlock in negotiations.

However, the UK will only agree to pay the sum – equivalent to €40 billion – it if the EU agrees to negotiate the financial settlement as part of a deal on future relations, including a trade deal.

There separate sources in Whitehall and government with knowledge of the UK’s negotiating strategy confirmed the figure, dismissing previous reports that Theresa May would agree to a £50bn bill as “too high”.

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

British Brexit negotiators concluded after second-round talks last month that the EU had created an impossible straitjacket for the negotiation process by refusing to talk about trade until it

Read the rest:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/05/uk-ready-pay-40bn-brexit-bill-eu-talks-trade/

Ireland’s prime minister tells Theresa May to strike Norway-style Brexit deal with the EU

August 6, 2017

Leo Varadkar has suggested Britain could rejoin the European Free Trade Association

By Jon Stone Europe Correspondent

The Independent

Image result for Leo Varadkar, photos

Leo Varadkar

Ireland’s prime minister tells Theresa May to strike Norway-style Brexit deal with the EU

Ireland’s prime minister has suggested that Britain could strike a Norway-style deal with the EU – forging a bespoke customs union with Europe and joining the European Free Trade Association (Efta).

In his first visit as Taoiseach to Belfast, Leo Varadkar hit out at the advocates of a hard Brexit and said their plans for border controls would throw up a trade border “across Ireland”.

He also said promoters of such a way forward had failed to come up with detailed proposals in the 14 months since the EU referendum last year – and that he believed they would never be able to do so.

The Efta includes Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein – and previously included Britain, before it joined the EU’s predecessor, the EEC, in 1973.

Efta’s members adopt nearly all EU legislation and standards so they can trade with the bloc, but with exceptions in certain areas, such as agriculture and fisheries. Downing Street has not yet ruled out Efta membership.

“There are people who do want a border, a trade border between the United Kingdom and the European Union and therefore between Ireland and Britain and therefore across Ireland,” Mr Varadkar said in a speech at Belfast’s Queen’s University on the future relations of northern and southern Ireland.

“These are the advocates of the so-called hard Brexit. I believe the onus is on them to come up with proposals for such a border and to convince us and convince you: citizens, students, academics, farmers, business people, civil society, that such a border is in your interest and that such a border would not be a barrier to trade and commerce.

“They have already had 14 months to do so, which should have been ample time to come up with detailed proposals. If they cannot, and I believe they cannot, then we can start to talk meaningfully about solutions that might work for all of us.”

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Theresa May has said Britain will leave the single market and EU customs union (AP)

Turning to the subject of trade, he continued: “If the United Kingdom doesn’t want to stay in the Customs Union, perhaps there can be an EU-UK customs union instead. After all the EU has a customs union with Turkey, surely therefore it’s possible to have one with the United Kingdom?

“If the United Kingdom doesn’t want to stay in the single market perhaps it could enter into a deep free trade agreement with the European Union and rejoin Efta, of which it was a member prior to accession, or the European Economic Area.”

The Irish PM, who took office in June, also suggested a “long” transition period where Britain remained in the single market so that future long-term arrangements could be worked out.

He said: “If these things cannot be agreed now, then perhaps we can have a long transition period during which the United Kingdom stays in the single market and the customs union while we work all of these things out.”Theresa May ruled out staying in the single market and EU customs union in her Lancaster House speech at the start of 2017.

Efta members, except Switzerland, are also all separately members of the European Economic Area, except Switzerland, which effectively participates in the area through a series of bespoke treaties.

All the Efta member states are members of the Schengen borderless area, except for four remote self-governing areas of Norway, including the arctic archipelago Svalbard.

Ireland’s ambassador to the EU revealed on Friday that a record 500,000 British people had applied for Irish passports in the first half of 2017 to “safeguard their positions” as EU citizens.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-leo-varadkar-customs-union-efta-theresa-may-ireland-hard-border-eu-a7877296.html

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