Withdrawal Agreement Red Lines

The EU and the UK announced on 17 October that they had agreed on a revised withdrawal agreement. It took place on the day of a decisive European summit and followed a period of more intense discussions. The agreement was quickly given by EU heads of state and government. Boris Johnson said the law was a « legal safety net » against the EU`s « extreme or irrational interpretations of the protocol. » However, the withdrawal agreement contains a dispute resolution mechanism that both parties wanted to invoke as a « unique » disagreement procedure. Britain is ready to consider a fisheries deal, but only in the context that the UK will become an independent coastal state at the end of this year. The EU`s current quotas will be abolished, as the UK can decide who has access to its fishing waters and what it can fish. Britain will negotiate separate fisheries agreements with other coastal states, such as Norway. « If the UK chooses to change its red lines in the future and makes this choice to its advantage to go beyond a simple but not insignificant free trade agreement, the European Union would be immediately ready to … Positive reaction, » Barnier said. The agreement should « include reciprocal obligations not to weaken or reduce the level of protection afforded by legislation and labour standards, in order to promote trade or investment. » This means that Britain will agree not to reduce workers` rights in order to gain a competitive advantage and expects the EU to do the same. The revised agreement has similarities to an initial EU proposal for a restop backstop only in Northern Ireland, which was rejected by May`s government, but it is more complex and has a decisive difference in the fact that Northern Ireland will legally be in the UK customs union. Ireland`s foreign minister said it was « in everyone`s interest » to reach an agreement quickly.

He added that the UK « requires a normal type of trade agreements like [the EU`s] with Canada » and that this is « really not too much in demand. » In a joint statement that followed, it was said that fishing rights, competition rules and the way an agreement is implemented still pose problems and that « no agreement is possible if these issues are not resolved ». EU sources told the BBC that a fisheries deal was close, but a Source 10 said there had been no « breakthrough. » Previously, the chairs of the European Parliament`s political groups had discussed their priorities in the negotiations on the UK`s withdrawal from the EU. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, and Michel Barnier, THE EU`s Brexit negotiator, stressed the decisive role of MEPs in the negotiations, who also took part in the debate. The European Council has published guidelines setting out a broad framework for negotiations and the European Parliament has adopted a resolution on the UK`s negotiations and future relations with the EU – which should not be more advantageous outside the EU than in it. The Commission has adopted detailed negotiating guidelines that implement the guidelines. Senior EU officials and diplomats say several countries – including France, the Netherlands and Spain – fear that the EU`s chief mission-focused negotiator, Michel Barnier, is too zealous to reach a deal with the UK.

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