The long awaited and much disputed Brexit White Paper has finally been published by the UK government. A free trade area for goods, as well as a similar arrangement for financial services are included.
The White Paper, which sparked the resignations of Boris Johnson (foreign minister) and David Davis (Brexit secretary) on 9 July was published on Thursday. It contains a request to the EU for an “association agreement” that would involve a free trade area for goods and a broader arrangement for financial services. It also seeks a security partnership and continued membership of several EU agencies.
According to the paper, “A free trade area for goods would protect the uniquely integrated supply chains and “just-in-time” processes,” as well as, “...see the UK and EU meet their shared commitments to Northern Ireland and Ireland through the overall future relationship.”
It also states that the UK and EU need to take, “a responsible approach in avoiding a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.”
Briefly, the British government’s vision for this economic partnership includes:
A common rulebook for goods, including agri-food.
Continued participation in certain EU agencies that provide authorisation for goods in highly regulated sectors.
A facilitated customs arrangement that would remove the need for checks and controls between the UK and the EU.
New arrangements on services and digital sectors.
New economic and regulatory arrangements for financial services.
Continued cooperation on energy and transport.
A new framework on UK border control.
As for a security partnership, Mrs May’s government seeks to, “maintain existing operational capacities.”
Although the proposals have received a guarded welcome by some European leaders, according to an article in the FT, published minutes after the White Paper was released, “…the expectation in Brussels--and among Tory Eurosceptics--is that Mrs May will have to make more concessions to meet EU demands.”
This is a very important point to keep in mind. The publication of the White Paper is only the very first step along the way. Its contents have yet to be discussed by member states, who are certainly likely have strong feelings on the proposed future relationship between the UK and the EU.