Prime Minister Theresa May: a new UK-EU security arrangement should be “effective from 2019”

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February 19, 2018 8:59 am Published by

19 February 2018

Addressing leaders and officials at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Prime Minister Theresa May laid out her plan for a new UK-EU “deep and special partnership” to ensure continued post-Brexit security cooperation, and insisted the UK would continue to be a leader in military missions and intelligence, and that an agreement should be “effective from 2019”. May said, “The partnership that we need to create is one that offers UK and EU way to combine our efforts to greatest effect where this is in our shared interest.” She said, “There is no legal or operational reason why such an agreement couldn’t be reached in the area of internal security,” and that, “If the priority in the negotiations becomes to avoid any kind of new cooperation with a country outside the EU, then this political doctrine and ideology will have damaging real-world consequences for the security of all our people.” She warned that the UK and EU’s common enemies would “like nothing better than to see us fractured.” May insisted that while participating in EU agencies the UK would “respect the remit of the European Court of Justice,” but in return the EU must “respect our unique status as a third country with our own sovereign legal order”.

Regarding the timeframe, May said, “There is no reason why we should not agree distinct arrangements for our foreign and defence policy co-operation in the time-limited implementation period as the commission has proposed. We shouldn’t wait where we don’t need to.” Asked if the UK would consider a second referendum, she said, “We are leaving the European Union. There is no question of a second referendum or going back on that vote.”

This comes as the heads of the British, French and German intelligence agencies, who were attending the event in Munich, called for continued post-Brexit security cooperation. The unprecedented joint statement is reported to be a signal that they do not want Brexit to result in any disruption to their relations.

Meanwhile, the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, commented that the “security bridge between the UK and the EU would still be maintained,” but that, “you cannot mix it up with other issues.”

Elsewhere, during a press conference with Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said she wanted the future relationship to be “as close as possible” while not replicating its EU membership outside of the union. Merkel added that she was “curious” about what the UK wants the partnership to look like, but added that her government “deplores” Brexit. May insisted that the UK and EU must be “bold and ambitious” regarding the future arrangement, and that she wants to see “a future economic partnership that is good for the EU, good for Germany, good for the other remaining members of the EU and is good for the UK.”

Source: The Times Reuters BBC News Politico The Telegraph BBC News II

The Times: Corbyn not expected to commit to a customs union with the EU following today’s shadow cabinet meeting

The Times reports that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is not expected to make a clear commitment to stay in a customs union with the EU, following a meeting of shadow cabinet’s Brexit sub-committee today. Labour backbenchers had reportedly believed that Corbyn would outline Labour’s support for customs union membership today, but he is not expected to give a statement after the sub-committee meeting. This comes after shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry told ITV’s Peston on Sunday, “We’ve looked at it and we cannot see a way forward when it comes to Northern Ireland or to tariff-free trade across Europe without us being in some form of customs union that probably looks very much like the customs union that there is at the moment.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that a split within the government has emerged over whether to accept a role for the European Court of Justice in return for more access to the single market. Bloomberg cites UK officials saying Brexiteers in Cabinet want a new mechanism to be established to resolve disputes between the UK and EU, made up of representatives from both sides.

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European Parliament Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt: bespoke Brexit deal on financial services “cannot be outcome” of negotiations

Speaking yesterday on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt insisted that the agreement on the future UK-EU relationship should ensure that there is “no competitive advantage for either the UK or EU”. He added, “Passporting will not be there, you have to be part of the Single Market.” He said, “There will certainly be something about financial services, but there will also be something about regulatory equivalence then, because what we don’t want is that with this whole agreement, establish a financial centre that is competing with the continent… We want a level playing field.” He added, “What Britain is asking for is a request for divergence in a number of fields and that we don’t want.” Outlining his preference for the future relationship, he said he would like to see “more than a free trade agreement,” and that, “We should like to have Britain still in the Single Market, Britain still a member of the economic area, Britain member of a customs union, and so on.”

On citizens’ rights, he said that Prime Minister Theresa May’s current demands are “not very serious” and would amount to “penalising citizens”. He said that citizens’ “rights and duties will be the same during transition.”

Meanwhile, speaking on ITV’s Peston on Sunday, the shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said “We cannot see a way forward when it comes to Northern Ireland or to tariff-free trade across Europe without us being in some form of customs union that probably looks very much like the customs union that there is at the moment, and that’s our position on that.

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The Times: Business groups urge government to establish UK standards in line with EU post-Brexit

Three of the UK’s largest business groups, the British Chamber of Commerce, the EEF (the manufacturers’ organisation), and the British Standards institution, have written to Business Secretary Greg Clark urging the government to commit to establishing UK standards in line with the EU post-Brexit. The letter says, “Without such a commitment the risk is that the UK will become a ‘standards taker’ rather than a ‘standards maker’, with our industries and consumers losing their influence over the standards that set local market access conditions. Such an outcome would threaten the UK’s future competitiveness — regardless of the eventual shape of the Brexit settlement.” The groups also warn that the creation of “multiple standards” post-Brexit would cause “fragmentation” and would “encourage local ‘rules’ to proliferate and increase cost and complexity for industry, consumers and regulators.”

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House of Commons Select Committee Report: UK government should provide Brexit fund to help food producers “to adapt effectively”

The House of Commons Select Committee scrutinising the government’s post-Brexit plans for the agriculture industry yesterday published a report, which stated that, ”Defra [The Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs] should consider providing a fund to support our food producing industry to adapt effectively to the challenge ahead.” The report, entitled, “Brexit: Trade in Food,” stated that, despite the government’s intention to “secure ambitious free trade deals while supporting farmers,” it acknowledges that “there is no guarantee that this will occur.” The report said, ”In the event that the UK leaves the EU without a free-trade agreement, UK-EU trade will proceed under WTO rules. Reverting to WTO tariffs will have a significant impact upon agriculture as tariffs are higher for agricultural products than for other goods and services.” It added that a no-deal Brexit scenario could result in a “significant impact on Britain’s farmers and domestic food supply.”

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Dutch government plans to recruit at least 750 extra customs agents to prepare for Brexit

The Dutch deputy finance minister, Menno Snel, said on Friday that his government “decided that the Customs and Food and Wares agencies should immediately begin recruiting and training more workers.” On the basis of the Dutch government’s two working Brexit scenarios, that the UK leaves the EU with no deal or that it leaves with a similar agreement to the EU-Canada CETA deal, he said that, “The results are … around 930 or 750 full-time employees are needed.” He added, “It speaks for itself that the cabinet is following the negotiations closely in order to be able to react appropriately.”

Meanwhile, the Dutch parliament’s Brexit spokesman, Pieter Omtzigt, on Friday said, “for a trading nation like the Netherlands, you just cannot afford for customs not to work, it would be a disaster.” He warned, “If we need hundreds of new customs and agricultural inspectors, the British are going to need thousands.”

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Leopold Traugott: Germany’s political identity crisis

Writing for POLITICO, Open Europe’s Leopold Traugott predicts that “The next four years in Germany will be anything but boring. A tectonic shift is taking place in Germany that will either revitalize or paralyze its usually staid political culture.” He writes, “The demise of social democracy across Europe has caught up with Germany, and has put a serious question mark over the future shape of the country’s political left. The SPD is desperate to avoid the fate of its counterparts in the Netherlands (the Labor Party) and France (the Socialist Party), which were obliterated in recent polls,” adding, ” Some SPD members have turned to Britain for inspiration: They see the sharp left turn the U.K. Labour Party performed under Jeremy Corbyn as a possibility for redemption.” However, “The left is not the only one facing an existential crisis. For years, Merkel’s electoral success made her virtually immune to challenges from within her own party. That’s no longer the case.” Importantly, deciding Merkel’s succession will not be a question of personnel only, but “will determine the CDU’s political direction and identity,” Traugott writes, adding, “The party will have to decide whether or not to break with the centrist course steered by the chancellor over the last 12 years and how to position itself against the SPD, which it essentially crowded out of the political centre.” He concludes, “German politics are set for a change [and] could be left paralysed,” but adds, ” There is still time for a positive shift. The current political turmoil is forcing Germany’s parties to fight for relevance and has breathed new life into political conversation. The competition of political ideas — notably absent in pre-election debates between Martin Schulz and Angela Merkel — is up and running again.”

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