4 Sep 2017
Policy area: Brexit
Last week, the EU and UK concluded round three of negotiations. Talks broke up early due to differences of opinion on the EU divorce bill, but were things as bleak as all that? Patrick Brown looks at the detail a little further.
Looking at the closing remarks of Barnier and Davis, we can deduce that aside from the EU divorce bill that precipitated the early break up of discussions, progress was achieved in a number of areas:
Health and social security: both Barnier and Davis agreed on the need to protect future social security costs and pensions as well as healthcare rights.
European Health Insurance Card: The EU has agreed so far to extent EHIC to UK citizens living in the EU, but not to EU citizens living in the UK. The latter is flagged as a matter for discussion under future relations.
Northern Ireland/Ireland Border: some progress was made on safeguarding the free travel zone between Republic of Ireland and the UK (as well as Channel Islands and Isle of Man). Barnier acknowledged that genuine progress had been made here. Similarly with respect to the Good Friday Agreement, Barnier suggested that there was recognition on both sides that provisions in its respect were progressing in the right direction, but more work was needed.
Red lines remain around:
The Financial Settlement: Neither side was able to find common ground.
Enforcement of Rights: the UK is adamant that the European Court of Justice should not enforce the rights of EU citizens in the UK, whereas Barnier considers this to be imperative.
Euratom: The UK's exit from Euratom was flagged as something to be returned to at the next round.
This proves that agreement is possible, but inching toward consensus is not conducive to an end state with which both sides can be content if carried out under the time limitations of the standard Article 50 process of two years. It is therefore understandable that the UK has requested an intensification of the meetings schedule to achieve sufficient progress in advance of the EU Summit in October that will determine if discussions may proceed to talk of the UK and EU's future trading relationship.
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