Brexit News UK EU Theresa May White PaperGETTY

Brexit News: EU ready to question Theresa Mays White Paper

Ms May offers her EU counterparts the opportunity to enter into a free-trade partnership with the UK beyond existing trade relations around the world, but the Prime Minister's proposal could thwart a number of Brussels negotiating lines.

The UK's White Paper calls for a new "common set of rules, a free trade zone for goods and a simplified customs agreement" to facilitate smooth trade between the UK and the EU and to guarantee the prevention of a hard border on the island of Ireland.

EU Member States have been told that they should remain silent and not destroy British offerings before new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab will meet the European Commission's negotiator, Michel Barnier, for the first time when talks begin next week.

Brussels fears that a public rejection of the British White Paper Brexit runs the risk of halting negotiations and improving the chances of exit from the business.

But that does not prevent officials from queuing behind closed doors to reject some elements of Britain's recent Brexit offer.

Smooth trade

Mr Barnier, the Union's negotiator, has long maintained that a Brexit agreement can not jeopardize the integrity of the single market and the Customs Union, and reaffirmed the message in all his public appearances.

Most recently, he told Britain to an audience of American policymakers that under no circumstances will it be allowed to compromise on the integrity of the EU market – even if it resolves the controversial Irish border problem.

Mr Barnier said: "We have to avoid a hard line and the UK has committed to it.

"At the same time, we must protect the external border of the EU in order to preserve the integrity of our market."

However, EU officials will emphasize to UK negotiators that the final Brexit agreement does not have smooth trade outside the single market and customs union.

Facilitated customs clearance

The UK calls for phasing out an FCA, which would mean maintaining the benefits of the EU Customs Union – free flow of goods, not a hard line in Ireland – but requires Britain to impose tariffs on Brussels.

Under the scheme, the United Kingdom would levy customs duties when crossing the border and then repay Brussels if those goods are delivered to an EU destination.

Guy Verhofstadt's Brexit Steering Group does not want to reject the plan and insists that the UK White Paper is a good starting point for new negotiations, but says there is "no room for the outsourcing of EU customs competences" to a third country.

Brussels is also doubtful of the scheme and will complain about the complexity of the customs regime creates too much bureaucracy for cross-border trade, according to an EU official.

One source said the scheme "looks problematic" and "adds a level of ambiguity".

Union negotiators will insist that a UK-EU system will administer them if talks continue next week.

Free movement of persons

The Prime Minister's white paper signals an end to freedom of movement between the EU and Britain, but this could be an obstacle in the negotiations.

Free movement arrangements in the regular free trade agreement do not provide broad access for migrants and are often limited to qualified professionals and students.

The UK document suggests that the new immigration regime between Britain and the EU "will be in line with the agreements that the UK wishes to offer to other close trading partners".

British officials acknowledge that there is no plan to offer the EU preferential treatment for migration, but this is a point for future negotiations.

This is important for the remaining EU-27, which seeks to give their citizens equal access to the United Kingdom.


The UK has proposed a close security pact with the EU after Brexit, including participation in a number of bloc mechanisms.

However, national constitutions could prevent Britain from joining a range of programs.

The German constitution does not allow the extradition of its citizens to third countries, ie if the UK signed an extradition treaty with Brussels, it would only work in one direction.

Ms May has also called for access to the EU's Galileo satellite navigation system, including development and its private signal for Member States' military and rescue services.

Brussels has not signaled its willingness to distance itself from its harsh position, denying access to the public regulated service of Galileo and the development of the project.


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