1/ Behind the scenes the third country listing or 'food blockade' row isn't quite so dramatic. The EU wants the UK to provide details of its post-Brexit animal and plant health (SPS) rules by the end of next month. The UK says it will, and they'll basically be the same as now.
2/ The EU wants this information so it knows the conditions under which its farmers will be able to export goods to the UK from January 1. This is a requirement for opening up its market to agricultural produce from Britain, and is demanded of every third country on the list.
3/ EU official says the UK has pledged to transpose the Official Control Regulation, which gives the Commission oversight powers along the agrifood supply chain, as well as EU rules on animal and plant health 'with modifications'. They're now waiting for the domestic legislation.
4/ They won't have long to wait. UK spokes says legislation to make the OCR operable in UK law will be put before Parliament next month. Adds: 'The UK is committed to maintaining the highest animal welfare and biosecurity standards. Our future rules will reflect this commitment.'
5/ The EU will reserve judgement until it has seen the small print, in particular those modifications to its SPS rules. But if all is well the listing can be done in a matter of days. This is now settling down into a technocratic exercise, which is what it was always meant to be.
6/ One possible fly in the ointment is the extent to which the EU will press the UK on possible future changes to its SPS regime. Some here are nervous about the influence of talks with the US. The UK will resist doing so, saying it'll notify the EU in good time of any new rules.

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More from @nick_gutteridge

21 Aug
Barnier: 'Those who were hoping for negotiations to move swiftly forward this week will have been disappointed. I'm disappointed, concerned and surprised. Once again UK negotiators haven't shown any real willingness to move forward on issues of fundamental importance to the EU.'
Barnier: 'Why should we agree to UK Gov being able to create competitive distortions directed against our companies? Need for LPF isn't going to go away even if UK continues to insist on a low quality agreement. It's a non-negotiable pre-condition to grant access to our market.'
Barnier: 'We hear the British government's concern about maintaining its sovereignty and its regulatory autonomy and we respect that clearly. But no international agreement was ever reached without the parties agreeing to common rules.'
Read 4 tweets
23 Jul
Michel Barnier says there has been 'some progress' this week on social security coordination, UK participation in EU programmes, and governance. But there was 'no progress' on Level Playing Field and fishing. He says: 'The UK did not show a willingness to break the deadlock.'
Barnier says the lack of progress on state aid is 'all the more worrying' because the UK has given the EU no indication of what its future subsidies regime will be. He says while he respects the internal British debate on this issue 'the time for answers is quickly running out'.
Barnier says 'the UK is effectively asking for near total exclusion of EU fishing vessels' from its waters. He says while the EU 'recognises under the future agreement there may be change to the benefit of UK fishermen' its current demands are 'simply unacceptable'.
Read 8 tweets
18 Jul
1/ This week's Brexit talks ended with no new progress, I am sure everyone will be shocked to hear. There is much puzzlement on this side of the Channel about what the UK side's game is. But perhaps more surprisingly, all is not quite as grim as it seems. thesun.co.uk/news/brexit/12…
2/ The puzzlement. This week's round was a repetition of previous ones, with no new ideas tabled. The UK is insisting on rapid progress and wants a joint outline of the deal by the end of the month. This urgency is much appreciated by the EU side which also seeks rapid progress.
3/ But Brussels is bewildered this emphasis on speed hasn't been accompanied by any UK attempt to break the deadlock. Talks are just 'going in circles' and 'wasting time'. Source: 'You'd expect at least discreetly they'd be telling Barnier we understand we'll need to compromise.'
Read 16 tweets
14 Jul
1/ What to expect when Brexit talks resume here tomorrow? For one, talk about the UK's push for the 'outline' of a trade deal by the end of the month. It's No 10's 'buzzword of the summer' according to EU diplomats, but they're quite confused about what exactly it actually means.
2/ The UK has been pressing this idea hard not only with the Commission but also EU capitals. The PM even mentioned it to Barnier in person when he dropped in on his dinner with Frost in No 10. The feeling is it'd be a new paper setting out the 'political trade-offs' in any deal.
3/ And this is where it becomes problematic, because Barnier and the EU really aren't keen. They suspect it's an attempt to rewrite the Political Declaration with more favourable terms for the UK. Of course, you can argue that the EU once rubbished the PD as non-binding.
Read 10 tweets
2 Jun
1/ Michel Barnier expects the UK to make the first move towards a middle ground this week believing No 10 wants to avoid the narrative talks are failing. His team told EU diplomats they anticipate more engagement on key sticking points. My piece from yesterday and a few thoughts.
2/ More engagement means they expect the UK to start working with them on how their demands can be moulded into compromises, rather than just outright rejecting them. The talks so far have basically been both sides setting out their positions and calling the other's unacceptable.
3/ That may not sound very constructive, but both teams say it has been useful. Negotiators repeatedly laying down positions, asking questions about and clarifying them, and even rowing about them in public helps them get to grips with what's really important to the other side.
Read 12 tweets
29 May
Barnier advisor Stefaan de Rynck tells IfG event: 'As to our demands being unreasonable, these are our demands. No qualification UK can put to them will change our demands. We need to find space for compromise loyal to mandate of EU - that’s the challenge that lies ahead of us.'
De Rynck on LPF: 'It’s a democratic decision to sign up to such commitments. We need to move beyond the kind of idea that signing up to international commitments that are legally binding would have some kind of threat to national democracy. We fully respect the UK has left.'
De Rynck concedes the EU is 'asking for a lot on state aid [dynamic alignment] because Member States and EU industry are very concerned'. Says: 'We need to find ways forward on the regulatory approach, also on state aid issues, otherwise we will not be able to conclude a deal.'
Read 11 tweets

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