NEGOTIATIONS: WHAT DOES THE UK WANT?

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

What is the UK’s position?

The UK is some considerable distance from the EU’s hope for an over-arching Association Agreement.  The UK’s position is driven largely by a Brexit vision of ‘independence’ and ‘sovereignty’ whilst enjoying some the EU’s privileges as a former member.  Their different approaches are starkly set out in an extraordinarily forthright exchange of letters between David Frost, the UK chief negotiator, and the response from Mechel Barnier, the EU chief Brexit negotiator SOURCE: UK negotiator to EU: ‘It does not have to be like this’, Politico, 19 May 2020 |  Barnier’s letter to UK: Let’s stop sending letters about Brexit, Politico, 20 May 2020The UK position:

  • Britain’s vision for an EU trade deal is a ‘suite of agreements’, a cherry picking parts of trade agreements that the EU already has with other countries (i.e. Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, USA and Norway). The UK offers little in return, the Level Playing Field that formed part of the commitment in the Political Declaration, having been disavowed and must bend to EU norms”.  SOURCE: Daniel Boffey, The Guardian, 19 May 2020
  • In recent Brexit Blogs, Professor Chris Grey explains the flawed logic of the UK’s ‘sovereignty of equals’: The UK has complained that the UK was not being treated as an ‘independent sovereign state’ and that negotiations are between a ‘sovereign of equals’, and if doesn’t get its way there are complaints that the EU is ‘punishing’ the UK. SOURCE: “It does not have to be like this”. But it is, Chris Grey, 22 May 2020 |  The Flawed Logic of sovereign equals, Chris Grey 1 May 2020
  • It’s more an argument than a negotiation with neighbours: Framing the argument in the language of entitlement to special treatment as an EU alumnus gives an impression of reasonableness to the audience at home when in fact there are no entitlements.
  • Government had been keen to convey the negotiations as a winnable fight against EU-the-enemy, UK ‘good cop’, EU ‘bad cop’ .  The inconvenient truth was that the EU were partners in the fight against COVID-19.
  • The health secretary, Matt Hancock, was forced to deny that explosive claims by a civil servant at the top of government that ministers made a ‘political decision’ to opt out of an EU scheme to bulk-buy ventilators and protective equipment for NHS workers. SOURCE: Matt Hancock forced to deny ‘political’ opt-out from EU ventilators, Patrick Wintour and Daniel Boffey 21 April 2020
  • Another UK strategy to get what it wants has been to insist that the UK will not extend the transition period imagining that this stubbornness will ‘concentrate the EU’s mind’ and will ‘blink first’, an absurd position in view of the coronavirus.
  • The EU can set its own rules according to the interests of its own member states, without rights and obligations in just the same way that the UK cannot bind the EU to its rules and laws. The obvious difference is that the EU is in a much stronger position than the UK.  The difficulty lies in the belief held by Brexiters that the UK should not allow the EU to impose additional rules or ‘level playing field commitments’.
  • Britain continues the language of entitlement with respect to ‘cherry picking’ access to Europol’s databases. Whether this or any other ‘EU wish’ is granted will be contingent on the value the EU places on mutual advantages to its member states. SOURCE:  “It does not have to be like this”.  But it is, Chris Grey, 22 May 2020
  • The unbending Brexit stance is causing difficulty with accepting the EU presence in Northern Ireland where it seeks to have a permanent office in Belfast where the necessary infrastructure is required for an internal enforcement border.  Dr Andrew Blick from King’s College London reports that trust between the two parties has been damaged and that obstacles have been raised by the UK which means that preparations have stalled. SOURCE: Weaponising the exit agreement: the ongoing Irish dimension of Brexit, Andrew Blick, The Federal Trust for education & Research, 20 May 2020

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