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Brexit talks in “state of deadlock” over money

There’s a deadlock over money in Brexit talks. The UK government isn’t ready to make specific commitments on the financial settlement and the EU isn’t ready to progress talks until it has.


Nearly seven months on from the prime minister’s letter triggering Article 50, Brexit talks have stalled. At the end of the fifth round of Brexit talks, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier made clear today that talks over the financial settlement were in “a state of deadlock”. He added the little progress made here is “very disturbing”.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Brexit secretary David Davis, Barnier said that whilst they had clarified some points, they had not made great progress. As such, he said he would not be telling EU leaders at the upcoming European council summit that “sufficient progress” has been made. And he would not be recommending talks move on to future relationship issues including transition arrangements. However, in a more optimistic note, Barnier said he remained convinced that, with political will on both sides, “decisive progress” can be made in the next two months.

Financial settlement

On the financial settlement, Davis indicated the UK was holding back on making specific commitments. He said progress had been made through a “rigorous examination of the technical detail”. However, the Brexit secretary added: “This is not a process of agreeing specific commitments – we have been clear this can only come later.”

It’s clear that it is this particular issue the EU and UK are in deadlock over with the UK government not yet ready to make decisions, which the EU is waiting for.

Citizens’ rights

On citizens’ rights, Davis reassured EU citizens in the UK their rights and status post-Brexit will be enshrined in UK law. He said the administrative process for EU citizens applying for ‘settled status’ will be new, streamlined and at a low-cost. Davis added there would be a simple process for those who have already applied for permanent residency to exchange it for the new status. And perhaps in reference to errors made by the Home Office highlighted in the media, he said: “We will also make sure that citizens rights of review of – and redress for – any errors will be quick, accessible and fair.”

But today I can confirm that we want to reassure those European citizens living in the UK that their rights and status will be enshrined in UK law by the Withdrawal Agreement.

And yes, there will be a registration process but the administration process will be completely new. It will be streamlined, and it will be low cost.

And in addition to that any EU citizen in the UK already in possession of a permanent residence card will be able to exchange it simply for settled status in a simple way. They will not have to go through the full application process again.

David Davis, Brexit secretary

A few sticking points over citizens’ rights remain such as the right to export benefits, the right to bring in future family members and the right of free movement across the EU for Brits living in an EU country.

Irish border

On the Irish border, which is the third key withdrawal issue, progress had been made over the continuation of the Common Travel Area. Both sides also reiterated their commitment to protecting the Good Friday Agreement. But there seemed little progress made over how the border would work.

Later in the press conference a reporter noted that elements of the Good Friday Agreement are predicated on the UK being in the single market and customs union. The reporter asked how Davis planned to protect the Good Friday Agreement given the UK’s plans to leave the two institutions. Davis said they would “move heaven and earth” to protect the Good Friday Agreement. It would be interesting if this included the UK staying in the single market and customs union…

What next?

EU leaders are due to make a decision over whether Brexit talks can progress to future relationship issues at a council summit on 19 and 20 October. As the Telegraph’s James Rothwell notes, it’s now a waiting game to see if EU leaders agree to loosen Barnier’s mandate.

You can see Davis’ full opening statement from the press conference at gov.uk. And you can find Barnier’s full opening statement at europa.eu.

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