EU warns Bri­tain to stay mum in Brexit tran­si­tion

Na­tion told it will have no say dur­ing de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Lorne Cook and Jill Law­less

The European BRUS­SELS — Union warned Bri­tain on Mon­day that it can­not ex­pect to have a say in EU de­ci­sion-mak­ing once it leaves, in­clud­ing dur­ing a tran­si­tion pe­riod from next year meant to help smooth the de­par­ture.

The warn­ing came as European af­fairs min­is­ters adopted — in a mat­ter of min­utes — new or­ders for the bloc’s Brexit ne­go­tia­tor, Michel Barnier, lay­ing out the terms of the tran­si­tion, which would run from the end of March 2019 un­til Dec. 31, 2020, when the bloc’s cur­rent long-term bud­get ends.

Bul­gar­ian Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Eka­te­rina Za­harieva, who chaired the meet­ing, said the min­is­ters gave “a clear man­date” on their re­quire­ments for the tran­si­tion pe­riod. She said EU law would ap­ply in Bri­tain dur­ing that time and that the coun­try would have “no par­tic­i­pa­tion in the EU in­sti­tu­tions and de­ci­sion-mak­ing.”

Barnier’s deputy tweeted that the ne­go­ti­at­ing guide­lines were en­dorsed in Brus­sels within two min­utes, although am­bas­sadors had spent weeks draft­ing them. Za­harieva said: “We hope an agree­ment on this with the U.K. can also be closed swiftly.”

In Lon­don, Brexit Sec­re­tary David Davis played down the impact on Bri­tain’s sta­tus dur­ing the 21-month tran­si­tion, say­ing that it’s “not ex­actly the same as mem­ber­ship — but it’s very, very sim­i­lar.”

“The ex­ist­ing reg­u­la­tory struc­ture will ex­ist, the ex­ist­ing court struc­ture will ex­ist,” Davis told a Bri­tish par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee.

He un­der­lined that Bri­tain would, how­ever, be free dur­ing the bridg­ing pe­riod to ne­go­ti­ate new trade deals with the wider world, which it is barred from do­ing while it is an EU mem­ber.

Barnier noted that “no ac­cord with third coun­tries en­gag­ing the United King­dom can en­ter force with­out the agree­ment of the 27” EU coun­tries. In a sign of po­ten­tial ten­sion over the is­sue, Davis warned that “there will be an ar­gu­ment about the right to ne­go­ti­ate free trade ar­range­ments.”

In the or­ders, the EU in­sists that Bri­tain should also abide by any new rules that are in­tro­duced dur­ing the tran­si­tion.

This has al­ready raised con­cern in Bri­tain, and Davis de­manded last week “a way of re­solv­ing con­cerns if laws are deemed to run con­trary to our in­ter­ests and we have not had our say.”

“It’s very, very im­por­tant,” he said, that “if there are new laws that af­fect us, we have the means to re­solve any is­sues dur­ing that pe­riod.”

But Ir­ish European Af­fairs Min­is­ter He­len McEn­tee said Mon­day that “what we can­not have is a po­si­tion where the in­tegrity of the sin­gle mar­ket, the cus­toms union, is in any way un­der­mined.”

“When the U.K. leave the European Union they will not be a voice around the ta­ble,” she said.

Swedish EU Af­fairs and Trade Min­is­ter Ann Linde agreed.

“When you have left the European Union, you have left, and this is just a tran­si­tion to a new ar­range­ment,” she said.

Any dis­putes would be han­dled by the European Court of Jus­tice. This, too, will not sit well with Brexit sup­port­ers, who want to es­cape the grip they say Europe’s top court has on Bri­tish sovereignty.

Bri­tain is im­pa­tient to launch talks on fu­ture ties with the EU and in par­tic­u­lar on trade, but more guide­lines will have to be adopted at a sum­mit of European lead­ers in March for that to hap­pen, based on progress made by then.

Mon­day’s guide­lines in­clude a de­mand for clar­ity on what fu­ture re­la­tions should look like.

“The sooner the Brits are clear about the fu­ture, the bet­ter for ev­ery­body,” said Italy’s EU af­fairs rep­re­sen­ta­tive San­dro Gozi. “We have to use our time and en­ergy not in shap­ing the tran­si­tion, but in shap­ing the fu­ture re­la­tion­ship.”

GEERT VANDEN / AP

European Union chief Brexit ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier ar­rives for an EU meet­ing in Brus­sels on Mon­day. European Union gov­ern­ment min­is­ters warned Bri­tain that it can­not ex­pect to have a say in EU de­ci­sion-mak­ing dur­ing the tran­si­tion.

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