At last, it seems like the deadlock in Brexit negotiations is over and, not surprisingly, it was the UK which blinked first.
According to Bloomberg, the U.K. signalled it is preparing to compromise in its stand-off with the European Union over the Brexit bill, with new talks scheduled next week in an effort to break the deadlock. The deal on the divorce terms will probably be better for the remaining 27 EU countries than for Britain on the financial settlement, Brexit Secretary David Davis said on Tuesday.
Speaking to the House of Lords European Select Committee, Davis stated:
“The withdrawal agreement, on balance, will probably favour the (European) Union in terms of things like money and so on,” Davis told lawmakers in London.
“Whereas the future relationship will favour both sides and will be important to both of us.”
We noted the almost casual referral to “money and so on” and, while Davis said that he was not going to put a “big offer” on the table, the Daily Express reported how Davis’s comments went down badly with Brexiteers...
His comments sparked uproar on social media, with users branding the Brexit Secretary’s negotiations a failure.
John Walters tweeted: “Why on earth would we pay more than legally required? Unless there is quid pro quo. If it favours EU then there should be no deal (& no money).”
Nathan Oxley complained “David Davis couldn’t negotiate his way out of a cardboard box.”
Davis also told the House of Lords committee he would “listen carefully” to calls from MPs for the final deal to be approved by statute in Parliament. A UK compromise on the divorce settlement paves the way for progress in the Brexit negotiations to accelerate during the next round of talks. The U.K. government and the European Commission issued a statement that these will be held on 9-10 November 2017. As Bloomberg explains...
May’s team wants to start discussing the future trading relationship and a two-year transition phase before the end of the year but must first satisfy the EU that the U.K. will pay what the bloc thinks it owes when it leaves.
Davis’s comments are significant because negotiations have stalled in a disagreement over how much the U.K. should agree to pay. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s government wanted to resume talks this week but the EU could not fit a new round of talks into its schedule, Davis said.
“We want to strategically accelerate the process,” he told the House of Lords EU committee. “We are not holding up the process.”
There are signs that both parties sense that progress has been made. Here is Bloomberg on the EU’s position.
Davis’s comments to lawmakers on Tuesday came after the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said he’s ready to step up the pace as the window of opportunity for trade talks this year closes...
“I’m ready to speed up negotiations,” Barnier told reporters in the Slovak capital Bratislava on Tuesday.
“We have proposed three dates, three weeks of new rounds of negotiations. In the next few hours or days, we’re working with the British delegation to find the right dates.”
Almost two weeks after German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s warm words at an October summit, concern was mounting that no date had been fixed for policy negotiations to resume, with confusion on both sides as to where the other stands and contingency planning well underway.
Relying on anonymous sources from both sides, there has been speculation that the UK was prepared to pay about 40 billion euros, while the EU was demanding about 60 billion euros. So, we have to assume the range has closed up into the 50-60 billion euros area.
Presumably, the odious John Claude Juncker will be happy.