28 Mar 2018

Brexit Negotiations: A New Milestone is Reached

As part of a commitment to keep members of the Diocese updated on the progress of Brexit negotiations, Bishop Robert sums up some recent developments:

Following the meeting of EU heads of Government (Prime Ministers and the odd President) last week a clear milestone has been reached in the Brexit negotiations:

  1. They received a draft legal text transforming everything that has been agreed so far (citizens’ rights, financial settlement, transition period etc) into the final form it will need to be for the formal Withdrawal Treaty. This contains 112 pages of substantive text. Of these, 74 pages are shaded totally green (I.e. full agreement between both parties’ negotiators). None are completely yellow (objective agreed but drafting changes or clarifications still required). 4 pages are completely white (text proposed by the EU on which negotiations are ongoing). There are no sections marked red – failure to agree. Agreed paragraphs on the transition period include confirmation of the end date at 31st December 2020 and the fact that UK and EU citizens will continue to enjoy full freedom of movement and settlement rights up until that date.


  1. They adopted negotiating guidelines for the future trade relationship between the UK and the EU after Brexit. Tariff-free trade in goods seems to be the only thing firmly on offer (and that subject to ‘rules of origin’ restrictions which would exclude goods with substantial non-UK components and the UK keeping its fishing waters open to EU vessels). What is on offer in relation to trade in services is not so clear. Reference is made to ‘host state rules’ applying which is likely to mean a need to re-register your trading entity in any EU state you want to do business with and be subject to their national rules, whereas at present you only need to be registered in one EU country to trade freely with them all. The Guidelines also call for ‘ambitious provisions’ on the movement of natural persons – ie as near as possible to ongoing freedom of movement for EU citizens to come to the UK and vice versa!

This offer from the EU has been constrained to fit within the UK Government’s ‘red lines’ of what they are not prepared to include in any future relationship, such as continued membership of the EU the single market (like Norway), the EU customs union (like Turkey) or the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. This is graphically illustrated in the chart shown to the heads by EU lead negotiator Michel Barnier. For each of the existing models for a close relationship with the EU short of membership it gives the UK Government red lines which rule it out. The only exceptions being the current arrangements that the EU has with Canada and South Korea....

Continue reading the full story on Bishop Robert's blog here.