Britain could stay in Europe market for 2-year transition period
BRUSSELS — European Union diplomats will start sketching out a Brexit transition offer on Wednesday that would probably let Britain stay in the single market for about two years after it leaves the bloc in March 2019, EU officials said.
But some officials and diplomats involved in preparing for the first “orientation debate” among envoys from the other 27 EU states warned London should not assume it can clinch an initial deal next month to open talks on post-Brexit relations. Some governments see benefits in making Britain wait for it.
A paper prepared for the discussion, seen by Reuters, showed the envoys would discuss the “scope” and “duration” of a transition, including how far Britain could remain in the single market — with all its obligations — and in other EU programs such as agriculture and fisheries pacts, the nuclear pact Euratom and security and defense arrangements.
They would also debate how the transition would affect EU agreements with other states, involving trade and aviation treaties.
Several officials who spoke to Reuters said Britain would have to abide by all EU laws in the transition period, even if they are changed during that period, but would have no influence over them.
“Anything else would be too complicated,” a second official said. Two others expressed the same view.
“The EU view on the transition period and the future will in a way be a moment of truth, exposing all the lies of those who campaigned for Brexit saying that Britain will be able to have the cake and eat it,” a third official said.
Wednesday’s discussions will also seek to gather views on the trade relationship with London that is to follow a transition, which may finish in December 2020, at the end of the current seven-year EU budget period.
EU leaders told Prime Minister Theresa May last month they were not ready to negotiate post-Brexit arrangements until London offered more concessions on its “divorce” terms. But they held out the prospect of opening such talks at a summit in mid-December and ordered their officials to start preparing among the 27 for a move to this new phase of talks.
Britain promised Tuesday that European Union citizens will have the right to appeal if they are denied permission to live in the country after it leaves the EU, part of an improved offer before a new round of Brexit talks this week.
The future status of 3 million EU citizens in Britain and 1 million Britons in other parts of Europe has been one of the main hurdles in the negotiations that started in June.
Britain has repeatedly said that EU nationals already in the U.K. would be able to stay, but EU officials have said the government’s proposals nonetheless would erode the existing rights of European citizens.
The British government promised Tuesday that no one would be denied residency over “minor technicalities” and said citizens of EU member countries would be able to appeal to British courts if they were refused permission to live in the U.K.
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