EU leaders sceptical about UK’s Brexit commitments after phase one negotiations

According to The Times, the EU will demand that British Government translate the phase 1 negotiations agreement “faithfully in legal terms as quickly as possible” or risk delaying trade negotiations.  This 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 UK 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. However, EU officials have prepared a text they hope will secure the deal and prevent any attempt to backtrack on agreements on EU citizen rights, the Irish border and the so-called ‘divorce bill’.

The draft which was seen by The Times, 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.”

The implications are that 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 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.

Dr. Ray NultyComment