HomeInsightsHouse of Commons Library publishes briefing paper on “the July negotiations”

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The briefing paper looks at what was achieved during the second round of negotiations between the UK and the EU in July on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The four days of talks in Brussels in July, which were largely between officials, were about “understanding each other’s positions”, the briefing paper says.

According to the paper, both sides reported some progress, and a “technical note” shows the points of agreement and disagreement between them on the issue of citizens’ rights. The two sides agreed that citizens’ rights are a priority for both of them and there were some areas of convergence. There is broad agreement on which EU citizens and family members of EU citizens should be protected, but areas of disagreement include how to guarantee these rights, the rights of future family members, and the exporting of certain social benefits.

However, the paper says, little else was published after this round, and there have been no more announcements on what documents either the European Parliament or the UK Parliament will get on the negotiations. The UK negotiator and Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davis, will not be able to update Parliament on any progress until September.

The EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, has asked for “clarification” at the third round of talks in August on the financial settlement, citizens’ rights and Ireland. There appears to be little change in the areas that most divide the two sides, such as the financial settlement and the role of the Court of Justice of the EU.

As for the financial settlement, the UK Government has acknowledged that the UK has financial obligations to the EU that will survive its withdrawal, and vice versa, and that they need to be resolved. However, David Davis has not publicly said which obligations the Government recognises.

As for the CJEU, according to the paper, the UK may be moving towards accepting some kind of continued role for the CJEU during a transition period, and the EU may be moving towards accepting something like the EFTA court, even for disputes over citizens’ rights, but this discussion “still has a long way to go”.

As far as the Irish border issues are concerned, the only public points made were that both parties were committed to preserving the Common Travel Area and the Good Friday Agreement, and that more work was needed. Neither side has published a position paper on these issues.

There were, however, some developments in the UK Government’s potential approach to transition arrangements. The paper says that the “much publicised cabinet divisions”, i.e. how long they might last and whether they would include free movement, appeared to be diminishing. The paper notes, however, that at the end of July the Prime Minister’s office confirmed that free movement would end in March 2019.

Three more negotiating rounds are scheduled before the European Council has its first opportunity on 19-20 October to consider whether “sufficient progress” has been made to move on to the next phase of the negotiations, which could include a discussion of the UK’s future relations with the EU and transitional arrangements. To access the briefing paper, click here.

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