Brexit. Why do Brits want Out of the EU?

Reply Tue 12 May, 2020 05:41 pm
U.K. has advantage in trade talks with EU

Britain and the European Union have started negotiations to decide on their relationship beyond the post-Brexit transition period through the year’s end. While the talks are mainly about a free trade agreement on goods and services and investment protection, they also concern EU members’ fisheries catches in Britain’s economic waters.

The United Kingdom insists that it will conclude a deal by the end of 2020 and will not ask for extending the talks until 2022 as permitted under its Brexit accord with the EU. If the two parties fail to wrap up the talks by the end of the year, they will levy regular tariffs on imports from each other beginning in 2021. There is a view that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is engaged in brinkmanship and that the U.K., supposedly in a weaker position, is bluffing the EU.

Not only EU members but European Commission officials joining the talks with Britain appear to think that the EU, more powerful in economic terms, will overwhelm the U.K. in the talks. This view is reflected in the EU’s “level playing field” argument that if Britain wants to export to the EU market without tariffs and quotas, the U.K. must keep complying or be in line with EU regulations and policies on labor, and environmental protection and government subsidies/taxation.

The level playing field argument is a logic that the United States prefers to use in trade negotiations, based on a selfish and arrogant belief that the U.S. industries will not lose in international competition unless its trading partners employ unfair trading methods. But even the U.S. has only gone so far as to insist that other countries must not give their industries a competitive edge over their American rivals by adopting looser labor or environment regulations that deviate from international norms or standards. The U.S. has not required other countries to follow its own regulations or equivalent conditions. The European Commission’s demands on the U.K. leaves one wondering if the EU has become more arrogant than the U.S.

If the EU adopts a carbon tax or changes its emissions trading system, will Britain be obliged to adopt the same policies? It will be impossible for the EU to press sovereign states to continue to use EU rules and policies or similar regulations. It is unreasonable for the EU to call on Britain to do what the EU did not demand from Japan and Canada when it reached FTAs with them.

From the viewpoint of international reciprocity, under which parties concerned mutually accord or admit same rights and duties to each other, the EU in theory would not be allowed to loosen its regulation more than the U.K. does, but that does not appear to be on the minds of European Commission officials. If so, the EU demand amounts to calling for an unequal treaty.

If the EU is to impose such conditions in the talks, Britain will be left wondering about the meaning of Brexit since it was supposed to be about regaining sovereignty from Brussels so the U.K. could set its laws and regulations independent of the EU. EU member governments and European Commission bureaucrats do not seem to care about British public opinion. It is understandable for citizens of EU member countries to denounce the behavior of the EU and the commission as a “democracy deficit.”

The EU member governments and commission bureaucrats will learn a hard lesson if they consider Britain easy to deal with. Britain is indeed in an advantageous position over the EU in the talks.

Fishermen from France, the Netherlands, Denmark and other EU members catch 40 percent of the entire EU fisheries haul in Britain’s waters. So far, those countries have been given fisheries quotas by Brussels under the EU common fishing policy. But from now on Britain will allocate quotas to these countries every year in light of the resources. If the EU fails to reach an agreement with Britain by the year’s end, quotas for EU member states may fall to zero in 2021.

The EU is seeking the same size catch as before, but it is in a weak position. When the 200-mile exclusive economic zones came into being in the late 1970s, Japan, whose fishermen previously operated freely on the high seas, had to hold tough negotiations with the Soviet Union and the U.S. on their catches in those countries’ waters.

Since Japan’s catch quotas in Soviet waters were drastically reduced, the government had to pay compensation to fishermen whose operations suffered. The U.S. demanded the purchase of fish caught by U.S. fishermen at sea in exchange for permission for Japanese fishing boats to operate in its waters, and eventually Japanese boats were driven out of U.S. waters.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has remarked that the fishing issue is a top priority in the talks with Britain. Fisheries is indeed a politically important issue because of the key role that it plays in local economies. If EU members find themselves in the same situation as Japan once did, serious political turmoil will follow.

The European Commission argues that if the talks break down and the EU begins to impose regular tariffs, Britain won’t be able to sell to the EU — its main market — even though its own fish catches may increase. But the EU tariffs on fisheries products that it has promised to the World Trade Organization not to raise any further are generally below 20 percent —and mostly around 10 percent — except for 22 percent on tuna.

It’s hard to believe that such tariff levels would affect U.K. exports to the EU. Given the non-elastic nature of food demand, demand for foodstuffs such as marine products will be little affected by price changes — British fisheries exports to the EU will likely not decrease in the face of the tariffs. Rather, it will be the EU consumers who stand to be hit by rising prices. Even with some tariff impact, British fish catches and exports will increase as the haul by EU members decline.

The EU is in a weaker position in other areas of regional trade. In goods, Britain had a surplus of £93.5 billion in 2018 against the EU. The EU’s largest export item to Britain is automobiles, valued at £46.5 billion, or 2.6 times larger than Britain’s auto exports to the EU at £17.4 billion. The EU’s auto trade surplus of £28.1 billion accounts for 30 percent of its total trade surplus. Failure to conclude an FTA with the U.K. will impose a 10 percent tariff on the auto exports. It is the EU that wants to maintain free trade with Britain.

Brexit has also enabled Britain to hold FTA talks with parties other than the EU, such as Japan and the U.S. These FTAs, if concluded, can take effect beginning next year, when the U.K. leaves the customs union with the EU.

The U.K. has a trade deficit of £3 billion with Japan. In auto trade, the deficit is £636 million — as Japan ships £1.934 billion against Britain’s export of £1.299 billion. If the Britain-EU talks break down and the U.K. launches an FTA with Japan, EU auto exports to Britain will decline under the weight of a 10 percent tariff while Japan can export more to the U.K. tariff-free.
The same thing will happen in trade between Britain and farm product exporters such as the U.S. and Australia. Among the EU’s top 10 export items to Britain, vegetables and fruit occupy the seventh position, valued at £6.92 billion, and meat ranked at 10th with £5.507 billion.

Usually 10 to 20 percent tariffs are levied on vegetables and fruit. In the Uruguay round of global trade talks, the EU’s non-tariff barriers against meat imports were replaced by tariffs by taking into account the gap between domestic and overseas prices. Since the price difference at that time was so huge that the newly introduced tariffs became prohibitively high — and was called “dirty tariffication.”

At that time, the EU, like Japan, introduced a special rate tariff free from the influence of exchange rate fluctuations. To convert the special rate tariff into an ad valorem tariff by taking into account the prices of frozen beef imported by Japan, it will be 63 percent, far higher than the 38.5 percent tariff Japan levies on imported beef.

The EU has effectively blocked beef imports from the U.S. and Australia by using the special rate tariff. In the event Britain-EU talks break down, can French beef compete fairly with U.S. or Australian beef in the U.K. market on the level playing field where the same tariff prevails? In addition, when an FTA between Britain and the U.S. enters into force, tariffs on U.S. exports to Britain will be abolished, while high tariffs will be imposed on EU exports to Britain. If Britain joins the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Australia will benefit from it. It is agricultural producers in the EU like France that will be affected.

Agriculture is a cornerstone of EU politics. Agriculture-related spending accounts for 40 percent of the total EU budget — though it’s share has been declining.
If the EU wants to avoid these problems, it has no choice but to change its negotiating position and hold intensive talks with Britain — making concessions where necessary — so that a deal can be reached by the end of the year.

- Kazuhito Yamashita is research director of Canon Institute for Global Studies and a senior fellow of the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and industry.

The Japan Times

Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 13 May, 2020 12:02 am
The problems are not just trade talks.
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 13 May, 2020 07:05 am
The UK trade secretary, Liz Truss, has outlined the government’s negotiating aims for a trade deal with Japan, which it hopes will boost commerce between the two countries by £15.2bn.

The UK is scrambling to replace trade agreements in place with several dozens of countries through the EU, including one with Japan that came into force in 2019.
Until now, the UK government has run consultations on potential future trade agreements with the US, Australia, New Zealand and a call for input on a potential agreement with Japan.

GOV.UK press release: Liz Truss kick-starts trade negotiations with Japan  

Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 13 May, 2020 10:47 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Brexit will mean checks on goods crossing Irish Sea, government admits
Ministers’ letter confirms border control posts at ports of Belfast, Warrenpoint and Larne

The government has privately conceded there will be post-Brexit checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea, months after Boris Johnson insisted there would be no such trade barriers.

In a letter to the executive office in Stormont the government confirmed there would be border control posts in three ports, Belfast, Warrenpoint and Larne.

Declan Kearney, one of the two junior ministers in the executive office, the regional equivalent of the Cabinet Office in London, confirmed the details at a select committee session in Belfast on Wednesday.

He told members of the local assembly that officials had briefed the executive on Monday.
... ... ...
Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 14 May, 2020 11:57 am
@Walter Hinteler,
UK told to pay EU's costs after being sued over City tax breaks
UK ‘breached directive’ when it failed to inform EU of zero-rate of VAT given to commodities traders

The British government has been ordered to pay the European commission’s legal costs after being successfully sued for granting City traders a tax break without EU permission.

The European court of justice ruled that the UK had breached an EU directive by failing to notify Brussels of a zero-rate of VAT given to commodities traders over the last four decades.

The UK is now expected by Brussels to seek the authorisation of the 27 member states or drop the policy it is claimed has unfairly boosted the City of London at the expense of other EU financial centres.

A Treasury spokesperson said: “We are reviewing the decision of the European court of justice, and will provide further details on next steps in due course.

“The decision does not require businesses to pay any VAT on historic transactions, and the law applying to derivatives trades today means no VAT is due. That will remain the case while the UK considers next steps in light of the ruling.”

The ruling came as the EU separately launched infringement proceedings against the British government for failing to comply with EU law on the free movement of its citizens and their family members.

The government is accused of limiting the rights of first-time job-seekers from other EU countries, as well as putting restrictions on the rights of their family members. The charges, which date back to 2014, also include imposing “illegal” lifetime re-entry bans on some people.

The British government has been given four months to notify the commission that it has fully transposed EU laws on free movement into UK law over concerns that the gaps might impact on the the implementation of the citizens’ rights under the withdrawal agreement after the end of the transition period.

The UK left the EU on 31 January but under the terms of the withdrawal agreement the country remains under the jurisdiction of the bloc’s court in Luxembourg until the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. Legal cases launched by Brussels will remain live for four years once the transition period is over, and for eight years when concerning citizens’ rights.

The European court of justice could in theory fine the government even when the UK is long gone from the EU’s structures.

The twin legal developments will inevitably fuel the arguments of those opposed to an extension of the transition period during which the UK remains in the single market and the customs union.

The row over the tax breaks began in 2018 when the commission claimed that the UK had been gradually extending the scope of VAT zero-rates initially given to trades in the future prices of metal, rubber, coffee, sugar, vegetable oil, wool, silver grain, barley and cocoa granted in the late 1970s.

The UK government accused the commission of not understanding a “complex series of restructurings” of the trade in so-called futures and of being overly “formalistic”.

The EU’s executive disputed that claim, arguing that the extension of zero-rating to a new range of trading was “not purely formal and were not undertaken simply to take account of the restructuring process” but had allowed “increasingly complex types of instruments, traded on increasingly complex markets” to escape the tax.

The VAT zero rate had, it was claimed, been extended without due notification to trades on the London Potato Futures Market, the International Petroleum Exchange of London, the London Meat Futures Market, the London Platinum and Palladium Market, the London Securities and Derivatives Exchange Ltd and the London Bullion Market.

The court’s judges, led by French jurist Jean-Claude Bonichot, agreed with the commission that the lack of notification did amount to a breach of the EU’s directives. The court added that the judgement held no sway on whether authorisation should be given if it was sought.

NB: the Court of Justice wrote:
As a preliminary point, it follows from Article 86 of the Withdrawal Agreement, which came into force on 1 February 2020, that the Court of Justice is to continue to have jurisdiction in any proceedings brought against the United Kingdom before the end of the transition period, such as the present action for failure to fulfil obligations.

Full judgement of the court European Commission v United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.#Failure of a Member State to fulfil obligations // Case C-276/19
Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 15 May, 2020 04:05 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Talks between UK and the European Union on their new trade relationship made little progress this week, several sources said today, with persistent differences on key areas weighing on chances for a deal by the end of the year.
Reply Fri 15 May, 2020 04:07 am
@Walter Hinteler,
I'm trying to purchase items from very reputable sellers on eBay, and they're having to apologise, and refund the money, because they can't get stock shipped in. This is global.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 15 May, 2020 04:12 am
The EU postal sector and delivery services certainly are part of the UK-EU talks, but that has nothing at all to do with global difficulties.
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 15 May, 2020 06:50 am
@Walter Hinteler,
The UK was "refusing to engage in full conversation," the EU's chief Brexit negotiator has said at the end of what Michel Barnier described as a "disappointing" third round of talks.

But the UK blames EU's 'ideological' approach for lack of progress in Brexit talks
Britain's chief negotiator has accused Brussels of taking an "ideological approach" to floundering Brexit trade talks, which he says are making "very little progress".

Speaking after the latest round of negotiations David Frost said the UK would make public its draft proposals for a trade deal next week, following a warning by EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier that "the United Kingdom has not got into a real discussion" on key issues.

The lack of progress comes with just a month to go until the deadline for extending the transition period under which the UK stays tied to EU rules – with the possibility of a damaging no-deal after that in December.

But Mr Barnier in turn accused the UK of not understanding the situation it had put itself in by deciding to leave and being stuck in the 1970s, with a "stalemate" looming.

"I have to tell you, today there seems to be a real lack of understanding of the objective, mechanical consequences of the British choice to leave the single market and customs union," he told reporters after the conclusion of the round.

"To make progress in these negotiations, if it is the UK's intention to get an agreement with the European Union, then the UK will have to be more realistic. They will have to move beyond this lack of understanding. It will doubtless have to change its strategy."

Mr Barnier added: "Trade policy is no longer what it was, trade policy has moved on. We're no longer in the 70s - a time where trade agreements were solely to dismantle tariff barriers. We've moved on from that period".

He said agreements now had to "be based on conditions of fair competition, in particular when it comes to state aid, social standards, of taxation".

The biggest stumbling block between the two sides is the extent to which the UK will respect EU rules and standards, or have reduced access to trade in the single market – a question the EU refers to as "level playingfield".

Other issues include access for EU fishing fleets to British waters – a major European red line – and the governance and structure of the deal, including the role of the European Court of Justice.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Tue 19 May, 2020 01:41 am
@Walter Hinteler,
UK farming and car industry to be protected in post-Brexit trade regime
Government sets out plan to cut tariffs, with many import duties to be reduced to zero

Britain’s farmers and carmakers will be protected under a new post-Brexit trade regime that will result in 60% of goods coming into the country tariff-free from the start of next year, the government has announced.

The Department for International Trade said leaving the EU would allow the UK to have a bespoke system that would be simpler and cheaper while providing support for key sectors of the economy.

In a clear sign that there will be no extension to the transition period designed to smooth the UK’s exit from the EU, the government said the global tariff would be introduced on 1 January.

Under the new regime, the tariffs on more than 6,000 products will be streamlined or simplified, with the aim of cutting costs for businesses and consumers.

The government said it was maintaining tariffs on agriculture – including beef, lamb and poultry farmers – and would maintain a 10% tariff on cars in order to protect domestic producers from overseas competitors. The UK automotive industry warned last year that operating on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms would cost it £40bn by 2024.

The international trade secretary, Liz Truss, said: “For the first time in 50 years we are able to set our own tariff regime that is tailored to the UK economy.

“Our new global tariff will benefit UK consumers and households by cutting red tape and reducing the cost of thousands of everyday products.

“With this straightforward approach, we are backing UK industry and helping businesses overcome the unprecedented economic challenges posed by coronavirus.”

The DIT said the system would ensures that 60% of trade would come into the UK tariff free on WTO terms or through existing preferential access schemes with developing countries from January 2021.

It added that successful free trade negotiations would increase the proportion of trade that was tariff-free, even though talks with the EU have stalled and negotiations with the US have only just begun.

The DIT said the new regime would get rid of some of the complexities of the EU system, would involve rounding down tariffs and would get rid of all tariffs under 2%.

It provided a list of goods that consumers would see come down in price as a result of zero tariffs: These included:

• dishwashers (down from 2.7%);
• freezers (down from 2.5%);
• sanitary products and tampons (down from 6.3%);
• paints (down from 6.5%) and screwdrivers (down from 2.7%);
• mirrors (down from 4%);
• scissors and garden shears (down from 4.7%);
• padlocks (down from 2.7%);
• cooking products such as baking powder (down from 6.1%), yeast (down from 12%), bay leaves (down from 7%), ground thyme (down from 8.5%) and cocoa powder (down from 8%); and
• Christmas trees (down from 2.5%).

Tariffs will be cut on more than 100 products in an attempt to encourage the development of a more sustainable economy. These include thermostats and LED lamps.

The temporary zero tariff rate on products needed to fight Covid-19 – such as ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) will be continued beyond 1 January next year if the medical situation makes it necessary, the DIT said.

Britain’s manufacturers would also benefit from the removal of tariffs on £30bn of imports entering supply chains, such as nuts and blots, polymers and glass rods.
Reply Tue 19 May, 2020 02:08 am
@Walter Hinteler,

nuts and blots

0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 20 May, 2020 10:34 am
Today, the UK's government admitted that there will be new trade checks between Britain and Northern Ireland, despite Boris Johnson's promise that his Brexit deal wouldn't include new controls.
Reply Wed 20 May, 2020 12:35 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Quelle surprise.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 20 May, 2020 12:43 pm
Honi soit qui mal y pense.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 21 May, 2020 11:01 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Spiegel has today an interesting report - in German ("Kanada, gelobtes Land der Brexiteers")

Parts of that translated:

Canada, Promised Land of the Brexiteers
The British want a deal from the EU along the lines of the Canada Trade Agreement. But EU Commission officials and experts consider this to be deceptive - because the British want more. Much more.

David Frost didn't waste much time with prefaces. "Dear Michel", the Brexite negotiator for the British government began his open letter to Michel Barnier. But dear, as Frost immediately made clear, he did not find the EU negotiator at all. Time and again, he and his team had presented reasonable offers on future relations with the EU. And time and again they have been rejected for inexplicable reasons, Frost complained.

It is difficult to understand "why the UK, as the only one of your trading partners, is so unworthy of an agreement for which there are many precedents under modern trade agreements".

Barnier took his time until Wednesday afternoon, when he coolly countered Frost's accusations. He too was in favour of making progress in the matter, the Frenchman replied in an open letter. But he did not believe that writing a letter was the best way to do this. "And, in particular, I don't want the tone you have adopted to influence the mutual trust and constructive attitude that is important between us."

The exchange is the lowest point so far in the EU-UK negotiations, which barely got off the ground in the third round last week. One reason for this is that, as Frost emphasises, the UK does not want to be so unique. It does not want more than what the EU has given other countries in trade agreements - above all Canada.

At the same time, however, Frost is not only calling for a trade agreement along the lines of Ceta. Because it should only be the centre of a whole collection of agreements. In addition, Frost wants a treaty on fisheries, which should be "very close to the EU-Norway agreement", plus one on air transport and another on the civil use of nuclear energy, also along the lines of previous treaties. "And so on," Frost concludes.

The problem from the EU's point of view is not only that Britain would receive similar benefits as an EU member, but without many of the associated obligations. "This is absolute cherry-picking," says Martin Shirdewan, who sits for the left in the EU Parliament's Brexite Coordination Group. Moreover, the EU's trade relations with Canada are also completely different from those with Britain.

An agreement along the lines of Ceta, say both Commission officials and independent experts, cannot work. Anyone who compares EU membership with such a free trade agreement, says an EU official, "has no idea about the details or is deliberately misleading in his arguments".
The EU exchanges mainly finished goods with Canada, but services are not part of the Ceta Agreement. However, they are enormously important for Great Britain and especially for the financial service providers in the City of London. There is also no free movement of workers between the EU and Canada. Great Britain also wants to restrict immigration from the EU. But the EU does not want London to participate in the free movement of goods, money and services. Anything else, the EU fears, could endanger the existence of the common internal market - one of the EU's raisons d'être.

Trade in goods between the EU and the UK is also very different from that between the EU and Canada. "The UK is much more closely integrated into European supply chains," says Andreas Meyer-Schwickerath, until recently Managing Director of the British Chamber of Commerce in Germany.

This applies, for example, to the automotive industry, one of the few industrial sectors still strongly represented in the UK. Parts for the cars come to the island from numerous countries - just in time. If customs inspections were to be introduced in the future, this could plunge the current processes into chaos in the short term and make them considerably more expensive in the long term. There are also problems with rules and responsibilities in the future. "A flasher that has EU approval will therefore be a long way from being permitted in Great Britain in future," says Meyer-Schwickerath.

There is also another problem: If more than half of a product consists of parts that were not manufactured in Great Britain, its origin is no longer considered British. According to industry figures, however, car manufacturers on the island obtain significantly more than half of their parts from abroad. They would then have to export their cars to the EU as foreign products - and pay a duty of ten percent.

The EU will certainly not negotiate about its safety and consumer protection rules, as a high-ranking trade expert from the Commission emphasises. In the negotiations with Canada, for example, the chapter on food safety was considered extremely difficult, as Canada is closely aligned with US standards - which are not very high in the EU, keyword chlorine chicken. However, the British Government is also currently trying to reach a trade agreement with the US, and this could lead to it moving closer to Washington on food safety. Negotiations with the EU would not make this any easier.
... ... ... Of course, one would prefer a "comprehensive agreement" with Great Britain, says Klemens Kober from the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce. But German industry has spent a lot of money preparing for a no-deal scenario, and surveys among companies have produced a clear picture: "85 percent say that the top priority is the cohesion of the EU internal market.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 23 May, 2020 11:49 am
@Walter Hinteler,
The no-deal Brexit ogre.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 31 May, 2020 04:59 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Negotiators on both sides will start on Tuesday in a fourth and possibly decisive round of negotiations on a follow-up agreement for the period after the brexite transition phase. The three rounds so far have been disappointing. Crucial points are above all Brussels' demand for a level playing field, the subject of fisheries and the role of the European Court of Justice in possible disputes.

But now Michel Barnier is threatening the No-Deal-Brexit:

Sunday Times: Keep promises or face no‑deal Brexit, Michel Barnier tells Boris Johnson

Barnier said the UK had more to lose from failure to get a trade deal than the EU, and the damage would be compounded by the impact of coronavirus.
He said, the EU's heads of state remembered 'very clearly the text which we negotiated with Boris Johnson'.
He said the EU was 'less exposed because 7 per cent of our exports go to the UK, whereas for the UK it's 47 per cent of their exports which come to the EU'.
Pointing to the coronavirus meltdown facing countries around the world, he said: 'If we don't get an agreement then that will have even more consequences. And then of course those will be added to the already very serious consequences of the coronavirus crisis..
Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 1 Jun, 2020 10:18 am
@Walter Hinteler,
EU has no legal duty to give UK trade privileges, document says
European parliament paper concludes EU does not have to offer privileges given to other countries in previous trade deals

The European Union has no legal duty to grant the UK privileges offered to other countries in trade deals, an internal European parliament paper has concluded ahead of a crucial round of Brexit talks this week.

The document, drawn up by officials for the parliament’s UK co-ordination group, is a short analysis of arguments made by the UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, in a letter to his counterpart Michel Barnier. Frost accused the EU of treating the UK as an “unworthy” negotiating partner by denying the UK “the kind of well-precedented arrangements commonplace in modern FTAs”.

EU negotiators were deeply irritated by the letter: they countered that every deal is unique and any agreement with the UK must reflect its proximity and potential to become an economic competitor undercutting European rivals.

While MEPs are not involved in Brexit negotiations, the latest document, seen by the Guardian, underscores that Barnier enjoys the support of the parliament, which must approve the final UK-EU deal.

The EU is “not legally obliged to grant to UK the rights or trade preferences agreed with other third countries in past FTAs”, the document states, adding that the EU is sovereign and has “the right to propose the commitments that are in its interest”.

The cementing of positions comes before a critical fourth round of negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship starting on Tuesday.

EU and British negotiators will meet via video-link because of coronavirus restrictions, with talks scheduled on 11 different topics, including trade in goods and police cooperation.

The thorny issue of fishing rights has been allocated the most time, amid fading hopes of an agreement by 1 July, a deadline intended to allow the industry time to prepare for changes from 2021.

The two sides will also square off over fair competition conditions to access the EU market, an issue known as the level-playing field that is at the heart of the increasingly bitter dispute.

EU officials have accused the UK of backsliding on promises made by Boris Johnson last October, while refusing to engage in detailed talks on the issue. British officials reject these charges, while blaming the EU for holding up progress on an area of mutual benefit.

British arguments have failed to convince EU diplomats to rewrite Barnier’s mandate, while EU officials have warned of stalemate if this week’s talks fail to progress. Another inconclusive round is likely to set up a difficult encounter between Boris Johnson and the head of the European commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in mid June.

The EU is playing down expectations of that meeting, which was once seen as a decisive encounter at the halfway stage of talks. “No one has the interest at the moment to see this as a make-or-break summit, because we know we won’t have enough progress, so we just need to find a common strategy to deal with it,” an EU diplomat said.

A UK spokesperson said the government would continue to approach talks constructively. “We expect this round to keep the process on track ahead of the high-level meeting later this month, but it’s clear that the EU needs to evolve its position if we are to reach an agreement.

“A balanced solution is needed which reflects the political realities on both sides, and we will continue to make sure our position is understood,” the spokesperson said adding that the UK would not agree “demands for us to give up our rights as an independent state”.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 3 Jun, 2020 01:16 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Record number of Britons becoming German citizens
The number of people who became naturalized German citizens increased by 15% in 2019, with more than average coming from Great Britain, according to new naturalization statistics released Wednesday by Germany's Federal Statistical Office.

Out of the 128,900 people who obtained German citizenship in 2019, the most came from Turkey at 16,200, followed by Great Britain at 14,600, Poland at 6,000 and Romania at 5,800.
According to the Federal Statistical Office, the number of British becoming German citizens has steadily increased since the Brexit referendum in 2016. In 2015, there were only around 600 cases.

The number of Brits becoming naturalized in 2019 is more than 2017 and 2018 combined.

However, the statistics don't indicate that this group left Great Britain for Germany due to Brexit, as more than half of the migrants have lived in Germany for over 25 years.

Most of the new British-Germans also decided to keep their British citizenship alongside German, and half of them were over 50 years old, with the oldest aged over 90.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 3 Jun, 2020 11:53 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Britons receiving German citizenship rose 2,300% last year
“Of those Brits that have managed to get a German passport, all of them reported Brexit as a key motivation,” said Daniel Tetlow, co-founder of the British in Germany association and co-author of a study by the Oxford in Berlin research partnership and the Berlin Social Science Centre looking at the impact of Brexit uncertainty on migration patterns.

“For most of the people we spoke with, it didn’t mean any kind of rejection of Britishness but more the compliment of being British European. And it’s a plain insurance policy, a no-brainer for Britons who have their livelihoods here and want to continue to have the rights and freedoms that come with an EU passport.”

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