According to reports of the Brexit negotiations, the second round of talks this week may be stopped ‘because the UK is not ready‘. Over a year after the EU Referendum result, we may wonder how that can be.
In the table below, I have summarised the negotiating position papers published by the European Commission and by the UK Government.
Strictly speaking, the White Papers and Terms of Reference are not formally part of the negotiations. However, the UK Government website includes them under the heading ‘position papers’, so I have included them in the table. I have also included the terms of reference, which appear on both websites, although they too are not position papers. The terms of reference set out the negotiation process, including dates of meetings.
International negotiations usually take place chapter-by-chapter. The discussions on different “chapters” usually involve the relevant experts for each chapter.
So far, as you can see from the table below, the Commission has published 10 position papers (in the strict sense) while the UK Government has published only 4. Most of the Commission’s position papers were also published in draft form when they were sent to the EU27 for comments two weeks earlier. Perhaps the UK Government’s problem has been that they also published the Repeal Bill on the same day as three of its position papers.
I have included direct links to both the EU27 and UK position papers in the table, together with their dates of publication. In a previous post, I had tried to compare the EU27 and UK positions on citizens’ rights. It was not easy because the structures of the EU27 and UK position papers are very different. Still, if anyone has the time to complete the exercise of matching the paragraphs of the UK position on citizens’ rights (in the second column) with the corresponding paragraphs of the EU27 position, here is the comparison table I had started.
As Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake observed after Brexit Minister David Davis left the talks after an hour to return to London and was pictured without any papers at the negotiating table, “This is a Government with no papers, no plan and no time for the most important negotiations of a lifetime.”
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