Sat, 28 January 2023

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EU leaders 'will delay Brexit trade talks' unless divorce deal becomes law

EU leaders 'will delay Brexit trade talks' unless divorce deal becomes law

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

EU leaders will threaten to hold up post-Brexit trade talks with the UK unless the withdrawal deal clinched by Theresa May last week becomes a legally binding treaty, it has been reported.

A text to be agreed in the coming days will urge Theresa May to translate the agreement “faithfully in legal terms as quickly as possible” or risk delaying trade negotiations, according to the Times.

It comes after Brexit Secretary David Davis said the withdrawal deal was a mere “statement of intent” and not legally binding - although he was forced into a U-turn in less than 24-hours after anger from Ireland.

The Prime Minister will meet EU leaders on Thursday for the crucial two-day European Council summit at which she is expected to get the green light for talks on future trade to begin.

But EU officials have worked up a text they hope will secure the deal and thwart any attempt to backtrack on agreements on EU citizen rights, the Irish border and the so-called ‘divorce bill’.

A draft states: “Negotiations in the second phase can only progress as long as all commitments undertaken during the first phase are respected in full and translated faithfully in legal terms as quickly as possible.”

It means the UK would have to introduce a fully negotiated withdrawal treaty into primary legislation without amendment in the new year.

Elsewhere, the text will warn that the EU will not strike a preferential or bespoke trade deal with Britain that could allow other trading nations to accuse it of discrimination, the Times adds.

“The European Council will calibrate its approach as regards trade and economic co-operation to avoid upsetting existing relations with other third countries,” the draft agreement reads.

It suggests the EU will not allow financial services to be included in a trade deal - which would be a blow for the UK after Mr Davis said he wanted a deal like the one struck by Canada but also covering services.


Meanwhile, US thinktank the Rand Corporation has warned that almost every trade relationship between the UK and the EU after Brexit would be less favourable than simply staying in the bloc.

In a new report it said a no deal outcome would be the worst possible scenario and would leave the UK economy 4.9% poorer by 2029.

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