25 Jan 2018

Exclusive: EU’s negotiating guidelines for the Brexit transition

The transition on offer is every bit as annoying to Jacob Rees-Mogg and fellow Brexiteers as he was signalling at the Brexit Select Committee yesterday. There is only a limited right for Britain to even make an appearance at meetings where the U.K. will have no voting rights.


The U.K. nonetheless has to follow all EU laws including any new ones that might pop up (the government says the EU law-making process is so slow there won’t be any surprises on that front – Mr Rees-Mogg begs to differ).

The document also makes clear that the U.K. has to abide by existing EU agreements with third countries, which covers many areas but not least among them are the 50 or so trade agreements that have been signed by third countries with the EU.

The U.K. has said it would like to continue the current arrangements which countries like South Korea and Canada have with the EU28 when the EU is only 27. The reply comes back from some of those countries: I’m sure you would, but we might have other ideas. South Africa has been the most outspoken but others (often those with agricultural interests) are thought to be sniffing around the idea of not simply signing a rollover agreement on the dotted line.

One EU official says the U.K. does not appear to have approached the EU for help on this even though it would be happy to facilitate dialogue. The same official said the U.K. could easily find that quite a few countries are happy for the U.K. to continue all the obligations that EU trade treaties impose but are keen to reopen the benefits.

The EU official said he could easily imagine third countries pressurising the U.K. for future commitments to be written into future U.K. bilateral trade agreements as the price for a temporary rollover.

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