Brexit: the October negotiations
What happened in round five of the Brexit negotiations – the last scheduled round in phase one? Did the EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, and the other 27 EU Member State leaders think “sufficient progress” had been made in the priority areas to move on to a discussion of the UK’s future relations with the EU? And what about a transition period or the possibility of a ‘no deal’ scenario? Has the Government planned for this? This note looks at what happened in the October round and other Brexit issues.
The fifth round of Brexit negotiations ran from 9 to 12 October. Some progress was made in the areas of citizens’ rights and the Irish border, but not on the ‘divorce bill’. The Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davis, maintains that many issues can only be discussed in the context of the UK’s future relations with the EU.
The financial settlement
The EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, spoke of “deadlock” in discussions on the UK’s financial settlement, since David Davis had not elaborated on the Prime Minister’s promise in Florence that the other EU Member States would not lose out as a result of Brexit.
Family reunification and social security
Both sides had already agreed to protect pensions, existing health care rights and the future social security costs of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in other EU States. But there remain “diverging views” on the specific terms of family reunification and the “export” of social security benefits after Brexit.
In round four the UK asked the EU to provide for UK citizens living in the EU to retain free movement rights to other EU States after Brexit, and said EU citizens with “settled status” in the UK would have a guaranteed right of return if they lived abroad for a prolonged period. In round five the EU did not agree to match the UK proposal.
In the September round the UK set out proposals on EU citizens in the UK applying for ‘settled status’ after Brexit, including a simplified, low cost procedure to allow EU and UK citizens to assert their rights. There is still no definite agreement on this.
Northern Ireland border
The negotiators announced progress on agreeing the joint principles on the continuation of the Common Travel Area and mapping out areas of cooperation that operate on a North South basis.
The prospect of a ‘no deal’ scenario is back on the agenda and the Government has been questioned about its preparations for this eventuality.
The timing and legal framework of a transition or implementation period have been raised in Parliament, but are not yet on the negotiating agenda.
The Government published two papers on the UK’s future relations with the EU; one about a future trade relationship and the other a future customs arrangement.
The UK and EU have written a joint letter to the WTO setting out a proposed way forward on the issue of tariff rate quotas.
EU-27 ministers have discussed the relocation of the two UK-based EU agencies, following the Commission’s assessment of the 27 bids.
October European Council
As expected, the other EU Member States did not think “sufficient progress” had been made so far to move the negotiations on to a discussion of the UK’s future relations with the EU. However, the European Council looked towards discussing a transitional period and invited the Council (Article 50) and the EU negotiator to “start internal preparatory discussions”.