UK renews demand for joint talks on the divorce and trade

Britain has renewed its demands for joint talks on the Brexit divorce and the future trading relationship to protect the EU’s £257billion in annual exports to the UK.

Brexit Secretary David Davis said the two sides to the negotiation were ‘inextricably linked’ as he published the first two of five new policy papers on the talks due this week.

Ahead of today’s publication, No 10 said both sides in the negotiations needed a ‘dynamic and flexible’ approach to the talks.

Formal face to face talks between Mr Davis and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier resume in Brussels next week. 

Today's papers from David Davis (pictured in London last week)  outline Britain's position on access to confidential documents after Brexit and how goods on the market at the point of Brexit will be handled

Today’s papers from David Davis (pictured in London last week)  outline Britain’s position on access to confidential documents after Brexit and how goods on the market at the point of Brexit will be handled

Today’s two papers outline Britain’s position on access to confidential documents exchanged between London and Brussels and how goods on the market at the point of Brexit will be handled.

In a significant point of difference, Britain wants services associated with goods to be included within the talks. EU negotiators have a narrow view the agreement should apply only to physical goods. 

It also seeks guarantees that anything on sale on Brexit day can continue to be bought and sold in Britain and Europe without change.  

Later this week, further papers will be unveiled on future civil judicial cooperation, proposed mechanisms for enforcement and dispute resolution once the European Court of Justice no longer has direct jurisdiction in the UK and on data protection. 

Brexit Secretary David Davis said: ‘These papers will help give businesses and consumers certainty and confidence in the UK’s status as an economic powerhouse after we have left the EU.

BRITAIN’S BREXIT POSITION: THE FIVE NEW PAPERS 

Brexit Secretary David Davis today unveiled the first two of five position papers due before the next round of talks. They will cover:  

  • The UK’s negotiating approach to goods on the market
  • Confidentiality and access to official documents shared between London and Brussels
  • Future civil judicial cooperation
  • Proposed mechanisms for enforcement and dispute resolution once the European Court of Justice no longer has direct jurisdiction in the UK
  • Data protection

‘They also show that as we enter the third round of negotiations, it is clear that our separation from the EU and future relationship are inextricably linked.

‘We have already begun to set out what we would like to see from a future relationship on issues such as customs and are ready to begin a formal dialogue on this and other issues.’ 

Mrs May’s official spokeswoman said the Premier believed both sides need a ‘dynamic and flexible’ approach ahead of the unveiling of the latest position papers.

Asked if Brussels was engaging with Britain’s work on the future partnership – which is in defiance of an EU diktat the divorce must be finalised first – the spokeswoman said officials were in ‘regular dialogue with each other’.

She said: ‘You will here from David Davis next week on how that approach is going.’ 

Britain’s negotiators will await the response of Mr Barnier to the latest papers.

The EU chief negotiator has been dismissive of Britain’s work to date, accusing Mr Davis and his team of a lack of preparation. 

Britain's negotiators will await the response of EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier (right with David Davis in June) to the latest papers

Britain's negotiators will await the response of EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier (right with David Davis in June) to the latest papers

Britain’s negotiators will await the response of EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier (right with David Davis in June) to the latest papers

In other developments today, a top Swiss judge today claimed Britain could keep trading inside the single market while still escaping the European Court of Justice.

Carl Baudenbacher said Britain should sign up to the European Free Trade Association’s court, which already arbitrates disputes between the EU and non-members of the EU such as Switzerland.

The proposal could allow Theresa May (pictured at church yesterday) to square the circle of getting Britain out of the ECJ while protecting free trade in the single market

The proposal could allow Theresa May (pictured at church yesterday) to square the circle of getting Britain out of the ECJ while protecting free trade in the single market

The proposal could allow Theresa May (pictured at church yesterday) to square the circle of getting Britain out of the ECJ while protecting free trade in the single market

Mr Baudenbacher is president of the court which was first established in 1960 and counts Britain as a founder member.

The proposal, unveiled in The Times today, could allow Theresa May to square the circle of getting Britain out from under the control of the ECJ while protecting free trade in the EU’s single market.

Brussels has insisted full membership of the trading zone is impossible without the ECJ being allowed to override UK courts.

But because rulings from the EFTA court are not binding on British judges, Mr Baudenbacher said his organisation could be the answer.

The idea would see Britain agree a trade deal from outside the EU for access to the single market which hinged on the unique court arrangement. 

He said: ‘If the UK did not wish to remain part of the EEA, but rather sought to be connected with the EU only in certain sectors such as through what Theresa May has called a ”deep and special partnership”, that agreement could possibly be ‘docked’ to the Efta court.’ 

EFTA President Carl Baudenbacher (pictured giving a speech in 2013) said Britain should sign up to his court, which already arbitrates disputes between the EU and countries such as Switzerland

EFTA President Carl Baudenbacher (pictured giving a speech in 2013) said Britain should sign up to his court, which already arbitrates disputes between the EU and countries such as Switzerland

EFTA President Carl Baudenbacher (pictured giving a speech in 2013) said Britain should sign up to his court, which already arbitrates disputes between the EU and countries such as Switzerland

The judge added: ‘If the UK sought a bespoke agreement with the EU, it would in my view need to accept a court.

‘It is unlikely that the EU would agree to any such arrangement without a judicial mechanism.’

Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve told The Times the idea ‘might be the solution’ to the impasse over Britain’s future trading relationships.

But Jacob Rees-Mogg, the senior Brexiteer, warned: ‘The big difficulty is that the Efta court takes its lead from the ECJ and while its rulings are technically advisory in practice they take direct effect in the countries concerned.

‘That would be unacceptable.’

Senior Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg (file image) warned EFTA rulings were only technically advisory and that in practice they take direct effect

Senior Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg (file image) warned EFTA rulings were only technically advisory and that in practice they take direct effect

Senior Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg (file image) warned EFTA rulings were only technically advisory and that in practice they take direct effect

Labour MP Chuka Umunna told the BBC Today programme: ‘There has got to be clear red water between Labour’s position and Theresa May’s job-destroying Brexit position.

‘And we do absolutely need to argue for Britain to remain a member of the single market and the customs union.

‘If we wish to participate in the single market in some capacity, there will need to be some kind of arbitration mechanism to govern whether we are complying with the rules that apply to that relationship we have with the EU. There are different ways this could work. ‘ 

WHAT IS EFTA? 

EFTA is a four member organisation that allows countries to trade inside the EU single market without having to be full EU members.

It currently includes Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland and operates trading rules in parallel with the EU.

EFTA members are allowed to enter into trade deals with other countries, unlike EU member states – but members are expected to coordinate their activity.

Britain was a founding member in 1960 but quit the group to become a full member of the then European Economic Community, a pre-cursor to the EU. 

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