U.K. Is Said Set to Give More Brexit Plan Details Next Week

Updated on
  • Position on confidentiality, goods on market scheduled Monday
  • Around a dozen papers planned for release by start of October

Martin Schulz, former head of the European Parliament and election candidate in the German elections, reacts to the U.K.'s proposal of a customs union with the EU. Schulz spoke to Bloomberg on the sidelines of an event in Berlin. (Source: Bloomberg)

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The U.K. is preparing to give further details of its approach to Brexit next week when it lays out positions in at least three different areas that it wants to negotiate with the European Union.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s government will publish two papers on Monday with more expected in the following days, as Britain and the EU gear up for a fresh round of divorce talks at the end of the month, according to three people familiar with the plans.

Publication of the positions follows accusations by the EU and critics in the U.K. that the government hadn’t presented a clear idea of what it wants from the Brexit talks. Five months since the two-year process of Britain’s withdrawal was formally triggered, the U.K. is trying to inject fresh impetus in order to be able to convince European leaders in October that they should start talks on a future trading relationship.

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The negotiations with the EU have had a “positive and constructive start,” May told Sky News on a visit to Powys in Wales on Thursday. “There’s a lot to be done. As a government we’re showing the work we’re putting into this.”

Confidential Information

On Monday, the government plans to release two documents. One is on how it will treat confidential EU information obtained before Brexit, and the other on how goods placed on supply chains in the EU single market before the U.K.’s departure can still be made available afterward, two of the officials said. The EU published papers on the same two issues last month.

While neither of these topics is likely to be controversial, documents penciled in for the days ahead will be more contentious. The first of these, which could also be published next week, relates to civil and commercial contracts in force before the U.K.’s exit.

A separate paper that could come within days will deal with how the Brexit deal should be enforced and what form dispute-resolution should take. The U.K. is likely to oppose the EU’s proposal that the European Court of Justice should have the power to rule on breaches of the overarching agreement and hand down financial penalties to the U.K. for non-compliance.

Earlier this week, Britain published its vision for post-Brexit customs arrangements with the EU, seeking to secure “the freest and most frictionless possible” trade even as it acknowledged businesses might face greater red tape. It also detailed its position on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Trade Deals

The government said it was keen to maintain something akin to membership of the bloc’s customs union for an interim period after the U.K. leaves the EU in March 2019, during which it wants to be allowed to line up trade deals with other countries.

While it welcomed the publication of the U.K.’s positions this week, the EU said it was focused on making progress on the issues of “separation,” including Britain’s residual financial obligations to the EU and the protection of the rights of EU citizens living in the U.K., before it would enter into discussion on trade or any transition period. Talks on future EU-U.K. relations -- the goal for May’s government -- can’t begin until EU leaders decide that “sufficient progress” has been made on the first issues.

Michel Barnier recently told EU diplomats that reaching that stage by October was unlikely, according to three people familiar with the matter. Members of the U.K. government now hold the same view, the Guardian reported on Thursday.

The U.K. is planning to publish documents on its positions in around a dozen areas before the end of September, including on security cooperation, data protection and science.

Talks are set to resume the week of Aug. 28 although they may not start until the Tuesday or Wednesday of that week because of a British holiday on the Monday, according to two people familiar with the matter.

— With assistance by Charlotte Ryan

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