Guide to Brexit – June update

Brexit Europe Speaks

Update on the Brexit Negotiations – June 2017

On 29 March 2017 Theresa May initiated the two-year time frame for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The parties finally sat down on 19 June 2017 to commence the Brexit negotiations. The parties have agreed to meet every four weeks and have established negotiating groups on:

  • Citizens’ rights
  • Financial Settlement
  • Other Separations issues

In what is seen as the first concession by the UK Government, they have agreed that discussions on a trade agreement will not start until the Financial Settlement has been agreed.

The negotiation teams have agreed to launch a dialogue on Ireland / Northern Ireland. The UK side expressed the view that the subject of Ireland is more important than the other three strands of the negotiations and the EU agreed that Ireland is being considered at the highest level.


Hard Brexit / access to the single market

UK Position

Recognises that the four freedoms are indivisible.

EU Council Position

Welcomes the UK’s acceptance that it cannot “cherry-pick”

Comment

The unwillingness of the UK to accept the free movement of people is the biggest stumbling block to retaining access to the single-market. Any softening of the position on this would be a welcome development from Ireland’s perspective. After the UK General Election, much political commentary has centered on a Brexit that works economically in priority to gaining full control over borders.

Ireland

UK Position

Avoid a return to a hard border and maintain the Common Travel Area.

EU Council Position

Ireland’s priorities are the EU’s priorities. Flexible and imaginative solution will be required to avoid a hard border. The EU should recognise existing bilateral agreement between Ireland and the UK that are compatible with EU law.

Comment

The future relationship between Ireland and Northern Ireland is has been given priority after the commencement of negotiations and is the subject of a separate negotiating group.

Trade Deal

UK Position

Wants a Free Trade Agreement between the UK and the EU that covers sectors such as financial services and network industries. This to be agreed during negotiations

EU Council Position

No negotiations on a future trade deal can commence until the terms of the UK’s exit are agreed.

Any agreement must ensure a level playing field and include safeguards against unfair competitive advantages.

Comment

It was agreed at the beginning of negotiations that no talks on a trade deal can commence until the terms of the Financial Settlement are agreed.

Transitional period

UK Position

In its White Paper the UK Government said that it would seek a phased process of implementation to allow businesses to have time to prepare for the complete exit of the UK from the EU.

EU Council Position

A transitional arrangement could be agreed which would be time limited and during which the UK would remain subject to EU rules.

Comment

Any period which allows business to prepare for the reality of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU would be welcome.

It might also allow time for the implementation of a free trade agreement between the UK and the EU which would be in Ireland’s interests.

Financial Settlement

UK Position

Wants to negotiate a fair settlement to take account of future partnership between the UK and the EU.

EU Council Position

Wants to negotiate a single financial settlement that recognises the UK’s existing and contingent financial obligations.

Comment

A negotiating group was established on this subject following the commencement of negotiations on 19 June 2017.

Existing EU legislation

UK Position

The Great Repeal Bill will enshrine current EU legislation in UK legislation as much as possible.

EU Council Position

No specific comments on this matter by the EU.

Comment

A key part of the UK’s negotiation strategy in negotiating a speedy trade deal is that UK domestic legislation will be in line with existing EU legislations at the time that it leaves the EU. This also provides certainty for foreign businesses operating in the UK.

Citizen rights

UK Position

Wants early agreement on the rights if UK citizens living in the EU and EU citizens living in UK. The UK will publish its proposals to guarantee the rights of EU nationals and reciprocal rights for UK nationals living in the EU on Monday 26 June 2017.

EU Council Position

Agreeing reciprocal guarantees to settle the status and situations of EU and UK citizens, affected by the UK’s exit from the EU will be a matter of priority for the negotiations.

Comment

A negotiating group was established on this subject following the commencement of negotiations on 19 June 2017.

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