Some progress had been made in some areas, Marshall stated, but a lot more needs to be done, such as the mutual recognition on qualifications, and there were other fields where “our offer is more advanced than the commission’s, where we’re looking for the commission to offer on their side, but we think that after two rounds, good progress has been made.”
On Ireland, there has been “good convergence on many of the issues, for example, the common travel area.”
He further argued that the discussions on the financial settlement had been difficult, but that there had been “no expectation on our part, and I expect neither on the commission’s part, for a big breakthrough on the finance issue.” The financial settlement is a different negotiation to the others, where incremental progress can be made. The British government “hopes and expects that after the October Council, sufficient progress across all issues” would have been made, he said referring to 18 October summit of EU leaders.
The British government has been arguing since the second round of negotiations that the “divorce settlement”, as the current issues under negotiations are often called, should be negotiated in parallel with the new “partnership agreement.”
Marshall insisted as well that it was important to move on to the second phase of negotiations, because “it is in all our interests”, and “is inextricably linked up with future partnership issues, the most important example being Ireland.” He added: “How do you decide what the border will look like until you’ve decided what the arrangements are in terms of trade agreements on goods and services? Not everything is black and white.”
Good relations between Davis and Barnier
The British ambassador underlined the “good understanding” between the two negotiators, but that they “can’t control the noise around the negotiations”, a lot of which has been “quite unhelpful”, but that the negotiators have been able to get on with the job.
Certain parts of the media like to make things more hostile than they are in reality, Marshall added. He also talked about it being a “myth” that talks are running into the sand.
Refusal to publish impact studies on the British economy
When asked why the government does not publish them and whether the public should have the right to see these studies, the British ambassador replied that:
“our commitment has been clear about the approach we’re taking, and that has been through the publication of our position papers and through very regular interaction that government ministers have with parliament.”
He added that British ministers appeared weekly, if not daily, on TV and in the papers explaining their position.
Marshall admitted that the most difficult issues will probably be the financial settlement, citizens’ rights and the question of the ECJ jurisdiction.
The issue of cross-border workers was also brought up, and he said:
“many UK nationals, particularly in Luxembourg, but in other parts of the EU as well, do not just seek the right to reside, but to live their lives as they have been doing.”
The British ambassador referred to the EU’s paper which sets out that a UK national will only have the right to reside and work in one member states, not across the EU.
Marshall explained that:
“while what is on offer on frontier workers would probably help someone who was living in Thionville and working in Kirchberg, it doesn’t cover people who might be living in Luxembourg and providing professional services across a number of different member states--living here, working in Brussels and Paris. We are keen that UK nationals should be able to continue doing those things. That would require movement from the commission, both on recognition of professional qualifications, but also essentially to have the ability to have freedom of movement within the EU27 for the 1.2 million UK nationals.”
The British ambassador also spoke of the concerns of the UK nationals living Luxembourg, adding that the “overall uncertainty” was the biggest issue, and that he understood that an increased number was applying for Luxembourg citizenship.
Financial services: mutual recognition?
Jeremy Browne, the representative of the City of London, has argued in a previous interview, on 6 July, that the most favourable and likely outcome for British financial services would be the “mutual recognition principle,” rather than equivalence.
Marshall said on this issue during the press chat on 6 September:
“I can’t speculate on that, we haven’t even begun to speculate on these things. We’d very much like to. We’re hoping to move to the next phase soon, but until the negotiations have started, we will have to see what the EU are saying. It’s difficult for me to say what will happen, I can say what we want to happen. We’re in the happy position where it’s trade or services, generally there is convergence. We want a free trade agreement which is more ambitious than anything the EU has with anyone else at the moment, and we see no reason why that shouldn’t be possible, because we’re not trying to converge, we’re already there.”
When asked whether this was official government policy, Marshall cautioned however that the paper on financial services was not out yet, but that it should be “as frictionless as possible.”
When questioned how higher education in Britain can stay an international selling point, Marshall said that the British government was very proud of how international its education system is:
“We have managed to attract talent from across the world into our universities. The government wants the higher education sector to remain international, attractive and competitive”
“I am confident that whatever arrangements are in put in place in terms of our future immigration policy--details of which we’ll need to wait until later in the year--will ensure that that can continue.”