New: Member states have been told by the European Commission that 95pc of the EU-UK future relationship treaty has been completed, but that wide gaps remain on the three key issues of the level playing field, governance and fisheries
2/ This came during a briefing of EU ambassadors this morning by the sec gen of the European Commission Ilze Juhansone, standing in for Michel Barnier
3/ Although 95pc complete, there are square brackets in key areas of the text, meaning bits that remain open and that are linked to an overall deal. These are in the field of energy, road haulage, aviation, rules of origin
4/ Several member states pressed strongly for emergency no deal contingency plans to be published
5/ On fisheries, the Commission is considering a review clause which would kick in after 5 to 10 years. The aspiration wd be that the review clause wd not just be for the quota/access arrangement but for the whole FTA deal
6/ This would ensure that fish remains linked to the wider FTA and that that leverage would still be there for the EU side. As far as I'm aware this is not an idea that has been formally tabled in the negs
7/ Another standout element of today's briefing is that officials are considering Provision Application of the agreement because time is diminishing so fast, ie that an agreement wd provisionally come into effect on Jan 1 but that all the ratification procedures wd happen after
8/ Those would include ratification by the European Parliament some time early in the new year - not clear yet how that will go down with MEPs.
9/ That also opens the Pandora's box of whether or not the agreement is "mixed" or "EU only". Mixed means a deal that touches on areas that are both exclusive EU competence and national competence
10/ Typically if it's mixed then all national (and some regional) parliaments will have to ratify (remember Wallonia and CETA?).
11/ However, it's more likely the EU could simply decide that even though the agreement is technically "mixed" it could be regarded as EU only. That would be done via attached declarations saying "due to unique circs..." etc, so it doesn't become a precedent for the future
12/ Even so, the genie is out of the bottle, and member states say they will now want to a proper debate on whether the deal is mixed or not - aviation is a national competence and member states wd have to sign it over to Brussels for the purposes of the deal if it's EU only
13/ On LPF, the UK is still resisting any autonomous retaliation clauses. The EU wants this so that if the UK diverges from joint standards in environment, employment law, climate change etc then it can swiftly retaliate
14/ However, on state aid it's understood the two sides are getting "closer and closer" on joint principles

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More from @tconnellyRTE

19 Nov
Here's my latest on the Brexit negotiations...

There's a lot of talk about time pressure +who that benefits. The EU has more onerous ratification obligations than the UK, eg the European Parliament will have to ratify the week beginning Dec 14 (the UK gov has more discretion)
2/ As has been widely discussed, the EP typically needs 4 wks to run it through its committees (no fewer than 11 cttees scrutinised the WA); there's the legal scrubbing, and translation into 23 languages by lawyer-linguists.
3/ However the EU is shifting strategy, going for "patience" and finding legal solutions to remove any time pressure caused by all the procedures. This cd include Provisional Application of parts of a deal from Jan 1, but that's regarded as "messy" and would only gain a few weeks
Read 13 tweets
16 Nov
If you’re wondering about the UK Parliament’s role in ratifying the EU-UK future relationship treaty, there’s a handy guide here from the House of Commons Library…
2/ But to save you the trouble, I’ve summarised it here.
3/ Firstly, it’s the UK govt, not parliament, which negotiates a treaty under its prerogative power. These powers are subject to some constraints. The Constitutional Reform & Governance Act (CRAG) gives parliament a limited role in ratifying treaties
Read 14 tweets
15 Nov
Here's an update ahead of the Brexit negotiations resuming in Brussels:
1/ The main obstacles remain fisheries, the level playing field and governance. The big sticking point has shifted to the so-called evolution or "ratchet" clauses in the non-regression provisions, ie that both sides evolve their standards in tandem over time...
2/ In particular the UK is resisting the ability for either side to retaliate if they depart from the level playing field. The fact that the "baseline" remains the standards both sides operate on Jan 1 - ie, EU-level standards, also remains an issue for London.
Read 19 tweets
11 Nov
Some important advice from John O'Loughlin of @PwC ahead of January 1 2021 during a webcast alongside @GavinBarwell @carinbryans and @mcgeedavid. Basically any Irish companies which export to the UK or import from the UK should know the following:
2/ "At a minimum you need a EORI number, the equivalent of a VAT number, you need that to lodge a customs declaration. The people that lodge a customs declaration aren’t the company themselves nor is it someone like PWC, but it’s a customs agent...
3/ "They file and prepare the documentation..., you need to engage the services of a customs broker, have a mechanism to pay the customs duty and the right information and documentation to support tthe importation of those goods.
Read 9 tweets
10 Nov
Response from European Commission spokes @DanielFerrie to the joint letter from @DUPleader and @moneillsf on food consignments to NI supermarkets under the NI Protocol:
2/ “We can confirm receipt of a letter from the First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland on the issue of agri-food goods brought into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. We will reply to this letter shortly.
3/ “The Withdrawal Agreement’s Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland prevents the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland. It protects peace, stability and prosperity, North-South cooperation and the integrity of the EU Single Market.
Read 7 tweets
9 Nov
Breaking: The DUP and Sinn Fein leaders have sent a joint letter to the European Commission describing as “unacceptable” the alleged threat to the continuity of existing food supplies to Northern supermarkets once the Northern Ireland Protocol takes effect.
2/ The letter, seen by @rtenews, and signed by @DUPleader and @moneillsf, highlights the problem of the need for checks and controls on food products entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain from January 1 and how that might impact on the supply of food to supermarket chains.
3/ The First/Dep First Ministers write: “It is hard to imagine a more fundamental aspect of everyday life than the purchase of daily food supplies...
Read 22 tweets

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