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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

EU to offer UK ‘status quo' transition period without voting rights after Brexit

EU ministers from the 27-member states agreed their negotiating position in two minutes

Britain must accept all EU laws during a post-Brexit transition period, including those made after it leaves, European Union negotiator Michel Barnier said. John Thys/ AFP Photo
Britain must accept all EU laws during a post-Brexit transition period, including those made after it leaves, European Union negotiator Michel Barnier said. John Thys/ AFP Photo

The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator David Davis has been told he can begin talks with the UK on the transition period which will come immediately after Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019.

EU ministers from the 27 other member states met in Brussels on Monday to decide their negotiation position on what they expect of the UK during the transition period, which they have proposed will run for 21 months until 31 December 2020.

The guidelines, which were agreed by the EU in two minutes, offer a "status quo transition without institutional representation", according to Brussels' deputy Brexit negotiator Sabine Weyand.

During the transition or “implementation” period, Britain will have to abide by the bloc’s rules as well as any new rules agreed between March 2019 and the end of 2020 but will not be allowed any voting rights.

This would include following the rules of the single market, which allows for freedom of movement, and the customs union.

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"During this period all decisions will apply and the UK must know this rule, and accept it from the start,” Mr Barnier said.

Britain’s prime minister Theresa May, who met senior ministers to discuss their goals for the transition period on Monday, said via her official spokesman that while there was “broad agreement” on both sides, there were differences on “specific detail”.

''There is obviously going to be a negotiation on what the implementation period looks like,” the prime minister’s spokesman said in a statement.

“This will be a negotiation and there will naturally be some distance in the detail of our starting positions.

“I think there is broad agreement on the principle of an implementation period being in the interests of both sides, but on the specific detail you would expect there to be some differences. That is obviously what will be negotiated."

However, the EU’s guidelines are unlikely to satisfy Brexiteers on the right of the ruling Conservative party.

Conservative politician Jacob Rees-Mogg warned the Brexit secretary David Davis last week that Britain risks becoming a “vassal state” if it agrees to follow the rules of the EU but give up its voting privileges.

While opposition party MP and pro-Remain campaigner Chuka Umunna warned that the transition period was not a "safe harbour".

Mr Umunna and other Labour Party politicians want the UK to stay in the single market and the customs union after the transition period is over.