UK responds to Barnier’s transition demands
LONDON — U.K. Brexit Secretary David Davis will this morning formally publish his response to Michel Barnier’s draft rules covering the proposed “transition period” after Brexit, according to a British official familiar with the situation.
Davis’ response was sent to the European Commission on Tuesday. It sets out the U.K. government’s position on the draft legal text drawn up by Brussels for the period after March 29, 2019, when Britain has left the bloc but not yet put in place new arrangements to govern the future relationship between the two sides.
According to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the U.K.’s response calls for a new mechanism to protect Britain from “harm” caused by new EU rules and regulations introduced during this transition phase, when it will continue to enjoy the same access to the European single market but without any say over the rules governing it.
The proposal will likely be welcomed by Euroskeptics in the Conservative Party ahead of a meeting of Theresa May’s Brexit “war Cabinet” at Chequers on Thursday, when they are expected to agree on a negotiating position on the U.K.’s future relationship with the bloc.
However, in an omission likely to raise backbench Tory eyebrows, Davis will not formally reject the Commission’s proposal to extend the cut-off date for new EU migrants arriving in Britain to accrue full EU freedom of movement rights — a proposal that caught the U.K. by surprise when Barnier published it earlier this month. The U.K. will also not challenge in writing the EU’s proposed end date of December 31, 2020 for the transition, according to the official, who said it was “unlikely to be contentious.”
Theresa May has repeatedly insisted EU citizens who arrive after Brexit must be treated differently to those who moved when the U.K. was still a member of the EU.
“On FOM [freedom of movement] we are not conceding it but we are also not putting a roadblock in the way at the outset,” the senior U.K. official said. “It will be the subject of tough negotiations.”
The U.K.’s response to Barnier’s transition proposals kickstarts a month-long negotiation between Brussels and London to nail down the specifics of the transition period before the European Council on March 22.