Tag Archives: Single Market

Brexit: EU27 Political Declaration

The European Council (Article 50) on 13 December 2018 adopted conclusions on Brexit.

1. The European Council reconfirms its conclusions of 25 November 2018, in which it endorsed the Withdrawal Agreement and approved the Political Declaration. The Union stands by this agreement and intends to proceed with its ratification. It is not open for renegotiation. 

2. The European Council reiterates that it wishes to establish as close as possible a partnership with the United Kingdom in the future. It stands ready to embark on preparations immediately after signature of the Withdrawal Agreement to ensure that negotiations can start as soon as possible after the UK’s withdrawal.

3. The European Council underlines that the backstop is intended as an insurance policy to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland and ensure the integrity of the Single Market. It is the Union’s firm determination to work speedily on a subsequent agreement that establishes by 31 December 2020 alternative arrangements, so that the backstop will not need to be triggered.

4. The European Council also underlines that, if the backstop were nevertheless to be triggered, it would apply temporarily, unless and until it is superseded by a subsequent agreement that ensures that a hard border is avoided. In such a case, the Union would use its best endeavours to negotiate and conclude expeditiously a subsequent agreement that would replace the backstop, and would expect the same of the United Kingdom, so that the backstop would only be in place for as long as strictly necessary.

5. The European Council calls for work on preparedness at all levels for the consequences of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal to be intensified, taking into account all possible outcomes.

Swiss cabinet against EU immigration referendum

The Swiss government said  it opposed curbing immigration from the European Union as suggested in a planned referendum because it  could harm exports to the country’s biggest trade partner.

“Cancelling the free movement of people would fundamentally call into question the bilateral path for Switzerland and Europe,” Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga  said at a press conference in Bern.

The 500-million strong EU insists its citizens be admitted to live and work freely in non-member Switzerland in exchange for enhanced Swiss access to the bloc’s Single market.

Anti-immigration members of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the largest party in parliament, have pushed to end that free movement on the grounds that it leaves the country without adequate tools to manage its growing population and encroaches on its sovereignty.

A referendum must be held on the matter as the required number of signatures has been gathered, but it remains unclear how much support such a proposal might garner in a nationwide vote. No date for the vote has been set yet.

The seven-member cabinet  said approving of the proposal at referendum would hurt Swiss efforts to attract qualified workers, stunt economic growth by crimping exports and raise the prices consumers pay for EU imports.

 

EU-Swiss talks on ice

Prospects for a new treaty formalising ties between Switzerland and the European Union, its biggest trading partner, appeared bleak after four years of negotiations failed to produce a effect by the EU mid-October deadline.

The talks are complicated by the UK negotiations on departure terms from the European Union, with the Commission being reluctant to be too flexible to the Swiss demands, setting a precedent for Britons.

“I can honestly say I find it difficult to believe that the government will be able to present by year’s end a solution to all the open questions,” Petra Goessi, leader of the pro-business Liberals party in the four-party cabinet, told the Neue Zuercher Zeitungn paper.

Brussels has been mounting pressure on Switzerland to agree on a frame that would assemble the 120 accords in different sectors and subsequently lead the Swiss to endorse changes to adapt to Single market.

It would aim at aligning to five areas of the Single market: free movement of people, civil aviation, land transport, mutual recognition of industrial standards and processed farm goods.

The treaty would also provide a more powers to the EU while resolving disputes, and providing clarity of procedures.

Should treaty talks fail, and time is short ahead of elections in Switzerland and for the European Parliament both due next year, the existing accords would stay in place, but bilateral EU-Swiss ties would enter a low-tide phase.

The fate of the EUR1.3 billion Swiss donation to EU cohesion fund to develop the EU Eastern member-states was unclear since last year. Although Swiss politicians deny the tit-for-tat approach there is a clear correlation between  funds donation and opportunities for Helvetic banks in operating within euro zone.

Davis-May correspondence on Brexit

The UK media published two letters, the exchange of opinions over Brexit strategy of the resigned top negotiator David Davis and the response of Prime Minister Theresa May.

The text of the letter David Davis sent the Prime Minister, tendering his resignation as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union below:

Dear Prime Minister,

As you know there have been a significant number of occasions in the last year or so on which I have disagreed with the Number 10 policy line, ranging from accepting the Commission’s sequencing of negotiations through to the language on Northern Ireland in the December Joint Report. At each stage I have accepted collective responsibility because it is part of my task to find workable compromises, and because I considered it was still possible to deliver on the mandate of the referendum, and on our manifesto commitment to leave the Customs Union and the Single Market.

I am afraid that I think the current trend of policy and tactics is making that look less and less likely. Whether it is the progressive dilution of what I thought was a firm Chequers agreement In February on right to diverge, or the unnecessary delays of the start of the White Paper, or the presentation of a backstop proposal that omitted the strict conditions that I requested and believed that we had agreed, the general direction of policy will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one.

The Cabinet decision on Friday crystallised this problem. In my view the inevitable consequence of the proposed policies will be to make the supposed control by Parliament illusory rather than real.

As I said at Cabinet, the “common rule book” policy hands control of large swathes of our economy to the EU and is certainly not returning control of our laws in any real sense.

I am also unpersuaded that our negotiating approach will not just lead to further demands for concessions.

Of course this is a complex area of judgement and it is possible that you are right and I am wrong. However, even in that event it seems to me that the national interest requires a Secretary of State in my Department that is an enthusiastic believer in your approach, and not merely a reluctant conscript. While I have been grateful to you for the opportunity to serve, it is with great regret that I tender my resignation from the Cabinet with immediate effect.

Yours ever
David Davis __________________________________ signature

 The full text of Theresa May’s reply to David Davis below:

Dear David,

Thank you for your letter explaining your decision to resign as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.

I am sorry that you have chosen to leave the Government when we have already made so much progress towards delivering a smooth and successful Brexit, and when we are only eight months from the date set in law when the United Kingdom will leave the European Union.

At Chequers on Friday, we as the Cabinet agreed a comprehensive and detailed proposal which provides a precise, responsible, and credible basis for progressing our negotiations towards a new relationship between the UK and the EU after we leave in March. We set out how we will deliver on the result of the referendum and the commitments we made in our manifesto for the 2017 general election:

1. Leaving the EU on 29 March 2019.
2. Ending free movement and taking back control of our borders.
3. No more sending vast sums of money each year to the EU.
4. A new business-friendly customs model with freedom to strike new trade deals around the world.
5. A UK-EU free trade area with a common rulebook for industrial goods and agricultural products which will be good for jobs.
6. A commitment to maintain high standards on consumer and employment rights and the environment.
7. A Parliamentary lock on all new rules and regulations.
8. Leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy.
9. Restoring the supremacy of British courts by ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK.
10. No hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, or between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
11. Continued, close co-operation on security to keep our people safe.
12. An independent foreign and defence policy, working closely with the EU and other allies.

This is consistent with the mandate of the referendum and with the commitments we laid out in our general election manifesto: leaving the single market and the customs union but seeking a deep and special partnership including a comprehensive free trade and customs agreement; ending the vast annual contributions to the EU; and pursuing fair, orderly negotiations, minimising disruption and giving as much certainty as possible so both sides benefit.

As we said in our manifesto, we believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside our withdrawal, reaching agreement on both within the two years allowed by Article 50.

I have always agreed with you that these two must go alongside one another, but if we are to get sufficient detail about our future partnership, we need to act now. We have made a significant move: it is for the EU now to respond in the same spirit.

I do not agree with your characterisation of the policy we agreed at Cabinet on Friday.

Parliament will decide whether or not to back the deal the Government negotiates, but that deal will undoubtedly mean the returning of powers from Brussels to the United Kingdom.

The direct effect of EU law will end when we leave the EU. Where the UK chooses to apply a common rulebook, each rule will have to be agreed by Parliament.

Choosing not to sign up to certain rules would lead to consequences for market access, security co-operation or the frictionless border, but that decision will rest with our sovereign Parliament, which will have a lock on whether to incorporate those rules into the UK legal order.

I am sorry that the Government will not have the benefit of your continued expertise and counsel as we secure this deal and complete the process of leaving the EU, but I would like to thank you warmly for everything you have done over the past two years as Secretary of State to shape our departure from the EU, and the new role the UK will forge on the world stage as an independent, self-governing nation once again.

You returned to Government after nineteen years to lead an entirely new Department responsible for a vital, complex, and unprecedented task.

You have helped to steer through Parliament some of the most important legislation for generations, including the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017 and the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, which received Royal Assent last week.

These landmark Acts, and what they will do, stand as testament to your work and our commitment to honouring the result of the referendum.

Yours sincerely,

Theresa May__________________________ singanture

PM expected to make “clear choices”

A detailed assessment of what the government must address in its Brexit white paper has been carried out by academic think tank The UK in a Changing Europe.

“To reduce uncertainty, which the Prime Minister promised to do since January 2017, she needs to make clear choices. Economically, there is much to be gained from making tough choices sooner rather than later”  prof. Anand Menon said.

 The report – The Brexit white paper: what it must address – argues that the white paper must:  resolve the trade-offs between: optimal economic policies, adherence to the government’s red lines and satisfaction of the EU’s demands;

  • provide a credible plan for a customs relationship setting out a proposal that is acceptable to the EU and is feasible both practically and financially;
  • address the trade off between regulatory divergence and trade barriers setting out not only how tariffs but also non-tariff (regulatory) barriers will be limited;
  • acknowledge and address the issue of the intra-Irish border proposing practical alternatives to the EU’s backstop solution (which requires Northern Ireland to remain in a customs union and fully aligned with the EU on goods);
  • allow for continued North-South cooperation on the island of Ireland, which will need to include practical solutions in areas including the environment, health, agriculture and security;
  • address the often conflicting interests within and between sectors addressing the high levels of uncertainty afflicting a number of economic sectors including fisheries and agriculture;
  • choose its preferred model for managing the financial sector: recognise a trade-off between regulatory autonomy and access to EU markets in financial services and indicate what the choice will be;
  • propose what kind of governance and dispute settlement arrangement it wants and decide on the institutions it wants to govern future relations with the EU
  • set out details on the future devolution settlement clarifying the UK’s own governance arrangements;
  • represent a significant improvement over the first Brexit white paper, which consisted of a series of highlights from the Lancaster House speech. Less policy prescription than a ‘greatest hits’ collection.

 The report acknowledges the significant political constraints which the Prime Minister is having to act but emphasises the need to make choices nonetheless.

 Equally, it argues that a bespoke deal – cherry picking parts of the single market with only partial oversight – is not on offer. This means the UK either has to shift its red lines or accept an inferior deal to the one that the Prime Minister has been selling for nearly two years.

 The 15-chapter 36 page report was written by leading academics involved with The UK in a Changing Europe.

Brexit transition until 2020

Britain will have to accept any legal changes the European Union makes during a 21-month transition period following its exit from the bloc, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said.

May to inform Parliament on Brexit plans

UK Prime Minister Theresa May will put forward her plan for a Brexit transition period with unchanged access to EU markets when she briefs MPs on Monday about her latest negotiating results with Brussels.

While attending EU Summit in Brussels May secured an agreement to move forward onto the topic of transitional and long-term trading arrangements with the continent.

On Monday she will report back to parliament the results of her Brussels trip, setting out the framework of a time-limited implementation period of two years, designed to facilitate Brexit and provide clarity for businesses and citizens.

The outline of the transition period that May will present is consistent with plans she has previously proposed, and they will be a subject to next stage of negotiation in Brussels.

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