Guardian ‘The British government published proposals on Tuesday for “a new customs arrangement that facilitates the freest and most frictionless trade possible in goods between the UK and the EU”.
The policy paper calls for “a continued close association with the EU customs union for a time-limited period after the UK has left the EU” in March 2019. It also makes clear that Britain intends to forge ahead with trade talks with other countries, but acknowledges that any new arrangements would have to respect the EU’s transition terms. EU leaders have poured cold water on Britain’s hopes of being able to sign trade deals with non-EU countries during a Brexit transition period, with one describing the UK’s opening gambit for trade negotiations as a “fantasy”.’
BusinessGreen Madeleine Cuff
Echoing Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s assurances, new Brexit position paper promises changes to trading relationships will not lead to lower environmental standards. The British government has today reasserted its promise that post-Brexit trade with the EU and other markets will not lead to an erosion of the UK’s high environmental and animal welfare standards.
In a long-awaited position paper released this morning, the government set out the UK’s stance on its future trading and customs relationship with the EU and other nations, ahead of its next round of negotiations with Brussels. The paper makes clear it does not intend Brexit to lead to a watering down of environmental standards, echoing similar assurances contained in the draft repeal bill and recent speeches by Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
“We will maintain our high level of standards and protect our public services,” the latest document states. “As we leave the EU, the government will continue to maintain our high standards for consumers, employees, the environment and animal welfare. The government will also ensure that decisions about how public services including the NHS are delivered for UK citizens, are made by UK governments and not by our trade partners.” The statement echoes promises made earlier this summer by the Defra Secretary Michael Gove, who promised to deliver a ‘Green Brexit’ that will uphold the UK’s environmental standards.
The paper sets out a vision for the UK’s trading relationship with the EU after 2019, when it is scheduled to leave the trading bloc. It reveals plans to adopt a transitional arrangement including some form of temporary membership of the Customs Union that leaves the UK free to negotiate new free trade agreements with other countries. The government hopes this new arrangement would eventually transition into either a “streamlined” customs agreement between the EU and UK that seeks to simplify and remove as many trade barriers as possible between the two parties, or a brand new customs partnership between the EU and the UK that “removes the need for a UK-EU customs border”.
The paper also stresses the government’s future approach to trade will align with its forthcoming Industrial Strategy, which is widely expected to focus on boosting markets for clean tech innovations such as electric cars, offshore wind, and battery storage.
“The approaches we are setting out today will benefit both the EU and UK and avoid a cliff-edge for businesses and individuals on both sides,” Brexit secretary, David Davis, said in a statement.