27 July 2018

Barnier notes “real step forward” in Brexit negotiations on security, but questions UK customs proposals

Following a meeting with Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday, the EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier noted, “This week confirmed that the UK proposals on security market a real step forward,” adding that “safeguards” offered by the UK allowed for stronger cooperation on internal security and data sharing. However, Barnier noted that “common ground between the EU27  and the UK is more difficult” in negotiations on future economic and customs relations. He highlighted, “We share a clear understanding on a core principle that will define our future economic relationship: the UK and the EU will both preserve the autonomy of their decision-making.” On the future customs arrangement, he stressed, “The EU cannot – and will not – delegate the application of its customs policy and rules, VAT and excise duty collection to a non-member, who would not be subject to the EU’s governance structures.” The government’s White Paper proposal for a Facilitated Customs Arrangement (FCA) would see the UK levy EU tariffs at its borders on goods destined for the EU, while maintaining the ability to alter tariffs on goods sold in the UK.

UK and EU negotiating teams this week also discussed the customs options for the Irish backstop. On this, Barnier argued the EU had “no objection in principle” to an UK-wide customs arrangement, but noted, “We have doubts that this can be done without putting at risk the integrity of our Customs Union, our Common Commercial Policy, our regulatory policy, and our fiscal revenue.” He said the UK would “come back to us with concrete proposals on how to address our concerns.”

Speaking at the same press conference, Dominic Raab said he was “confident” the UK and EU would reach a “workable solution” on the Irish backstop, but added, “That will be easier to achieve if it is clear that the backstop, if it were to be exercised at all, could only be for a time-limited period before the permanent future arrangements would become operational. And would not give rise to an extended limbo.” He also called for both sides to commit in the Withdrawal Agreement “to move expeditiously from [the political declaration on the future relationship] to the conclusion of the binding agreements that will give it effect during the course of the implementation period.”

The next round of Brexit negotiations will take place in mid-August.

Source: European Commission Gov.uk

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