Barnier rejects customs plan set out in May’s Brexit white paper – as it happened

Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier hold a press conference.

Here is the text of Michel Barnier’s opening statement. And here is the text of Dominic Raab’s.

And here are the main points.

  • Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiatior, rejected the customs proposals in the British government’s Brexit white paper. The government’s plan envisages the UK collecting tariffs on behalf of the EU as part of what it calls a “facilitated customs arrangement”. But Barnier said:

This goes significantly further than what Barnier said at a press conference at the end of last week when he raised concerns on this issue, but did not explicitly reject what the UK was offering. On Friday last week he said:

  • Barnier said today that the EU was “open to a customs union” with the UK after Brexit.
  • He said the EU considered the British agreement to pay £39bn as an “exit bill” was settled and not something that could be renegotiated. Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, said the UK wanted to ensure this payment was conditional on the EU progressing with a trade deal after March next year and he implied that Barnier had accepted this. Raab said:

We have been clear, as the EU is, that there is no deal until we do the whole deal. The various different aspects – the withdrawal agreement, the protocol [on the Irish border] and the political declaration [on future relations] – come as a package as a whole.

We had a good and constructive conversation today about how we make sure in practice that there is that link between those two key areas, the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration on the future framework.

But Barnier gave a different emphasis when he replied to the question about this. He said:

  • Barnier said the UK and the EU had made good progress towards a deal on security after Brexit. He described this as “a real step forward”. (At the time it sounded as if he was saying “rare” step forward, but the text says “real”.) He said:

This week confirmed that the UK proposals on security mark a real step forward. The UK has provided new guarantees for the protection of fundamental rights and the uniform application of law and the white paper commits the UK to membership of the European convention on human rights. It recognises the European court of justice as the only arbiter of EU law. These are important safeguards. They enlarge the possibilities of what we can do together on internal security, in particular on data exchange.

Based on the protection of personal data, and based on reciprocity, the EU and the UK can explore the modalities for close cooperation on the following points: the exchange of DNA, fingerprints, and vehicle registration information (so called “Prüm”); the exchange of passenger name records to better track and identify individuals involved in terrorism and crime; swift and effective extradition, based on the procedural rights for suspects.

  • Barnier said that, although some aspects of the government’s white paper were “useful”, other aspects were problematic because they threatened the integrity of the single market. He said:
  • Raab said he and Barnier would meet again in mid August, and then hold weekly meetings with a view to reaching an agreement by October.

That’s all from me for today.

Thanks for the comments.

Here is the key quote from Michel Barnier on the customs aspect of the Chequers Brexit plan – the “facilitated customs arrangement”, as the UK government calls it, that would involve the UK collecting tariffs on behalf of the EU.


This from Michel Barnier today doesn’t bode well for the Chequers proposal…

July 26, 2018

Nick Eardley

Here is some reaction to the press conference from journalists and commentators.

From the BBC’s Andrew Neil


Barnier rejects key part of May’s Chequers Agreement — EU won’t allow U.K. to collect tariffs on Brussels’ behalf.

From ITV’s Libby Wiener


Barnier says EU can’t farm out collection of tariffs…

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