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The UK Government’s proposal for a “backstop” arrangement to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit could be published today, the Times reports. The proposal will reportedly foresee the UK staying in the EU’s customs union for a limited period of time, without however specifying when the arrangement will come to an end. Some ministers are concerned about the absence of a specific date, with a senior Conservative quoted in the Daily Telegraph saying, “Politically it’s very difficult because a lot of Conservatives will be very concerned that we are giving an incentive to the EU to keep the backstop in place forever.”
Elsewhere, a Downing Street spokesman said yesterday that the “backstop” plan will be “published shortly,” confirming that the arrangement would be time-limited. He added, “The backstop is there for if we have reached an agreement but extra time was required to implement it. But as the Prime Minister and others have said, we do not expect that to be the case.”
Separately, Brexit Secretary David Davis yesterday said, “The detail of this [backstop proposal] is being discussed at the moment…It has been through one cabinet committee, is going to another one, and it would be improper of me to pre-empt the negotiation. But I suspect it will be fairly decisive tomorrow [Thursday].” This comes as the Brexit “War Cabinet” sub-committee is due to meet today.
The Times The Daily Telegraph The Guardian
The European Commission has laid out plans to hit US imports worth €2.8 billion with retaliatory tariffs after the US raised new punitive duties on EU aluminium and steel imports. The EU has targeted products including US motorbikes and peanut butter. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström called the decision “a measured and proportionate response to the unilateral and illegal decision taken by the United States,” adding, “We regret that the United States left us with no other option than to safeguard EU interests.” EU Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen also said the proposal had the “full support for all the member states.”
UK, France, Germany and the EU have called for “public assurances” from the US that European business will be exempt from sanctions on Iran. In a letter to the US, they argue, “As close allies we expect that the extraterritorial effects of US secondary sanctions will not be enforced on EU entities and individuals,” adding, “We expect that the United States will refrain from taking action to harm Europe’s security interests.” They also write, “An Iranian withdrawal from the [nuclear agreement] would further unsettle a region where additional conflicts would be disastrous.”
The Daily Telegraph
In a speech at the Royal United Services Institute, Brexit Secretary David Davis yesterday said that in its White Paper, due to be published soon, the Government “will say that our future security partnership [with the EU] should include formal, strategic and operational dialogues that allow the UK and the EU to learn from each other,” adding that it “will set out, at length, the steps we want to take to keep as close trading ties as we currently have, and make sure that trade stays as frictionless as possible. It will tackle, once and for all, the heavily propagated myth that the UK doesn’t know what it wants.” Speaking at the House of Commons yesterday, Prime Minister Theresa May did not give a specific date of publication for the White Paper.
In the same speech, Davis said, “The first duty of government is to keep its citizens safe, and it’s the pursuit of that safety that made Britain make that unconditional offer to the EU. Any move by others to place conditions on our offer will only serve to put the safety of everybody’s citizens at risk,” adding, “[The UK] has decided that Europe’s safety was far too important to be negotiated away.” Davis also mentioned that the UK was not seeking a “membership light” future security relationship with the EU, but a stable and lasting arrangement “which will not need to be revisited,” while warning, “The European Union does have choices and when I see the positions proposed by the Commission I see choices being taken, ones which learn towards the protection of legal precedents above operation capability.”
Cars assembled in the UK may not qualify as British-made under future trade deals with third countries, as the percentage of local content in the cars is significantly below necessary standards, Sky News reports. According to Mike Hawes, CEO of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, “To be able to take advantage of a free trade deal generally you need to say that the majority of the components that go into your products come from that country,” but warned, “That real figure in the UK is really more like 25% for UK automobiles.”
Meanwhile, Sky News reports that the Dutch government advises Dutch companies to diversify their suppliers away from the UK, since “After Brexit, parts made in the UK no longer count towards this minimum production [local content requirement] in the European Union.”
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Following the recent government defeat over a House of Lords amendment to ensure that all existing “rights, powers and liabilities … that contribute to the protection and improvement of the environment” were preserved after Brexit, Environment Secretary Michael Gove yesterday said, “There may well be a response, an amendment in lieu, which seeks to address some of those concerns but also a wider, more constructive way forward.” This comes as Conservative member of the Environmental Audit Committee Zac Goldsmith has drafted another amendment aiming to ensure that “the new [UK post-Brexit] environment body [has] the ability to properly hold government to account, if necessary through the courts, and that we put the key environmental principles that underpin our environmental laws into primary legislation.”
Only 26 percent of Danes are in favour of adopting the Euro as their national currency, a poll for the Jyllands-Posten newspaper suggests, with 60 percent rejecting such a move. There is also a majority for Denmark remaining outside the EU’s defence initiatives (57 percent) and justice and police cooperation (54 percent).
In a piece for Prospect Magazine, Open Europe’s Anna Nadibaidze writes, “Whether the UK will remain a party to the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is only one question in the debate about future UK-EU security arrangements,” adding, “The key question that will determine the impact of Brexit on extraditions in the long-term revolves around the prospects of striking a new effective agreement to substitute the EAW.” She argues, “Tackling the question of extradition as part of the future security partnership between the EU and the UK seems to be a viable and desirable path. Security is not a zero-sum game: both parties find pre-EAW extradition rules unacceptable for security reasons and have an interest in reaching an agreement.” Nadibaidze concludes, “The details about how a new extradition arrangement will work are likely to differ from the EAW, and clarification on those details, particularly judicial oversight, is urgent.”