Europe, Politics and Government

Brexit Negotiations in October: Softened Stances, But No “Sufficient Progress”

Covington & Burling LLP – 10.27.17

The third round of the Brexit negotiations, at the end of August, was not very productive. This was despite the British side’s publication of an impressive number of position papers over the course of the summer. These covered various technical questions but also the sensitive issue of the participation in the customs union and how to avoid reestablishing a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The documents were not well received by the EU side, not only because a number of them anticipated negotiations on the future relationship, but mainly because they brought no realistic solutions. Rather, they confirmed the EU’s view that there was no real leadership on Brexit in London and that the negotiators were constrained by an official position that had become unrealistic: that the UK could, with no harm, leave the customs union and the internal market as soon as by the end of the two years foreseen by Article 50 of the EU Treaty.

In view of the impasse, the EU therefore asked for a postponement of the fourth round of talks scheduled for the week of 18 September. The talks were indeed postponed for a week.

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