Britain's Brexit strategy to be tested in coming talks in Brussels

News Analysis: Britain's Brexit strategy to be tested in coming talks in Brussels

LONDON,-- Britain on Tuesday painted its clearest picture yet on what London wants from the European Union (EU) after it officially leaves the regional bloc in March 2019.
The position paper, which was published just hours ago here as the first in a series of the British proposals on Brexit, is simply unilateral, and it has to be accepted by the EU.

Therefore, the new strategy, which is being criticized and praised in Britain, will be officially tested for the first time as British and EU negotiators resume their third round of exit talks in Brussels by the end of this month.

It is the first in a series of papers covering major issues in the negotiations. Tough talks are expected in the future on thorny issues, including the future trade relations between Britain and the EU, and the status of the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom (UK).

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, hailed the British move as "a positive step", but it also said that it would "carefully study" the text.

The Tuesday release of the long-awaited document took place more than a year after the British people voted to leave the bloc. It also came as the two rounds of talks ended in Brussels with no substantial results.

It is seen as part of London's efforts to counter criticism from Brussels about its approach to the Brexit talks. EU officials said in July that it was hard to make a progress in the Brexit talks because Britain had no position at all on many issues.

Shortly after its release in London, a senior EU official in Brussels dismissed the British plans as "a fantasy".
Under the new proposal, Britain seeks to remain in a customs union with the EU for an interim period to avoid border chaos after its departure from the bloc. However, the new paper did not disclose how long the transition period will last.

The position paper says that Britain should be free to negotiate trade relations during the interim period, something EU officials are likely to find it hard to accept.

Britain is eager to enter the next phase of talks, which has little progress so far, but the EU insists on seeing sufficient progress in reaching agreement on three initial issues -- how much London will have to pay the withdrawal from the EU, how about security checks and customs duties on the Irish border, the only border between Britain and the EU member countries after Brexit, and the status of three million EU nationals living in the island country.

The European Commission said that it would "study the UK position paper on customs carefully", and it "takes note" of the UK's request for an interim period.
However, it added: "We will only address them once we have made sufficient progress on the terms of the orderly withdrawal."
"An agreement on a future relationship between the EU and the UK can only be finalized once the UK has become a third country," the Commission said.

Cred: Xinhua News

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