NEGOTIATIONS: WHAT DOES THE EU WANT?

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**LATEST on the Brexit negotiations following the 4th round**

What does the EU want?

The EU would like to agree a deep and flexible partnership with the UK, as set out in the agreement signed by Boris Johnson and the EU  on  17 October 2019. This partnership was negotiated by Theresa May, and finally signed following some amendments requested by Mr Johnson [1].

The Agreement is in two parts: the Withdrawal Agreement [2] and the Political Declaration [3].  It reflected adjustments requested by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who signalled his approval of it [4] and signed it. [European Commission Communication of 17 November 2019, C(2019) 8000 final]

In terms of international agreements, what the EU has offered the UK is innovative and far-ranging. The idea is that the UK comes away with a deal that is more than just trade.

At its core will be a Free Trade Agreement that could be one of the most extensive of any that has been agreed by the EU, because it could include  things that a 21st century economy needs such as services, digital trade  and intellectual property, as well as agricultural and manufactured goods.

The real plus from a UK perspective, is the EU would like to agree on  non-trade areas including foreign policy, security and defence, law enforcement and criminal justice. [ref 5 – 5870/20, 12 February 2020]

The EU understands that the Withdrawal Agreement  and the Political Declaration of 19 November 2019, have the status of an international Treaty, which both EU and UK will be bound to uphold.  The EU would like to see good faith from the UK that it will uphold the agreement. [ref 6 – 5870/20, 12 February 2020]  The UK government signed up to this in Article 184 of the Withdrawal Agreement.  [7]

Within this context, the EU wants to:

  • Uphold human rights, and other rights that we currently have under EU law, including workers’ rights [8]
    • Everyone benefits from human rights. At number one is the right not to be tortured.[1] Human rights prevent the police from snooping on people without warrants, they mean we can speak out against the government without being thrown in jail, we have a right to marry whom we wish, to hold religious beliefs without being persecuted. It is difficult to see why anyone would be opposed to these rights. Other rights, such as workers’ rights, protect your rights in the workplace, they establish standards that your employer should adhere to, the protect the right of women to maternity pay.
  • Maintain a level playing field for EU and UK businesses [9]
    • a level playing field there is one set of rules for all – in EU terms, this means one set of rules for 27 countries. Everyone has to comply with the same standards, and in return they can trade in the knowledge that their goods and services will be permited without red tape, in all of those countries. Anyone old enough will remember what it was like before we had the level playing field. An unlevel playing field meant different forms for different countries, different compliance processes, being shut out of other countries just because they tweaked the standard, customs checks  – loads of red tape. The EU has got rid of that red tape. If UK wants to play in that  market, and continue as we do now, to benefit from having less red tape,  it will have to comply with EU standards.
  • Maintain high standards for food and animal welfare
    • When we walk into the supermarket, we can be confident that the food we buy is safe. We can read on the label where the food was produced, a list of ingredients, any allergens in it. We know the food production supply chain must operate safely. We are confident that the welfare of animals is of a high standard. How can we be so confident? Much of this is down to EU law or regulation, which the UK government has implemented. The EU sets standards for all the countries, so even when you go on holiday in the EU, you can have confidence in the food you buy. This wasn’t always the case years’ ago before the Single Market was created.
  • Avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; protect the Good Friday Agreement and peace on the island of Ireland, as well as protect trade.   In order to ensure that, the EU wants to ensure that the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland is fully implemented.
  • Recognise professional qualifications of UK citizens working in EU countries
  • Commitment to rules-based free trade. Agree zero tariffs, zero quotas, zero dumping [10]
  • Agree a security partnership that will address issues like the ability of UK law enforcement authorities to exchange information with their counterparts in EU countries, and for example, arrange for arrests of criminals in EU countries and extradite them to the UK. This is much broader than the usual form of trade agreement and does offer something special to the UK that other governments have not got.
  • Agreement on data protection – this is needed so that businesses can transfer data to and from the UK and EU. For many businesses, this is vital so that they can continue trading. It includes banks and insurance companies, hotels, and people who sells goods an services online.
  • Uphold the rights of citizens who have moved either from the UK to EU countries, or who have moved from EU countries to the UK [11]. This includes basic rights such as the right to reside in the country they have moved to. For many, this means the right to stay in their own home.

BUT

  • The EU wants to protect the four freedoms that create the Single Market of 27 countries – goods, services, people and capital. This means it cannot give everything to the UK.
  • The EU is clear that cannot give the UK ( which since 31 January 2020 is ‘third’ country – that is, not a Member of the EU) all the benefits of being in the Single Market without any of the responsibilities. [12] It’s just like decide to leave a golf club and stop paying your membership fees, you can’t continue to enjoy the benefits of free access to the golf course like other members do. ? https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/articles/opinion/crucial-year-future-eu-uk-relations?
  • The EU emphasises the importance of being ready for the UK’s withdrawal from the internal market and the customs union at the end of the Transition period on 31 December 2020, regardless of the outcome of the negotiations.  It has stressed that the consequences will be even more significant should no agreement be reached. It highlights  the Commission’s sector-specific ‘readiness notices’, which seek to ensure that EU industry is ready for the inevitable shock that the UK’s withdrawal from the single market will cause. [13]
  • The EU wants the UK to uphold principles of human rights and respect for rule of law, as defined in a number of international Treaties including the European Convention on Human rights, the (United Nations) Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. [14]

 

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