Richard Parry discusses the attempts to express political objectives in secure legal wording as Brexit progresses
On 20 December 2017 the EU Commission set out its draft supplementary negotiating guidelines for the next phase of the Brexit negotiations, during which the arrangements for UK withdrawal on 29 March 2019 will be finalised and the course set for the end-state of relations following the transition period. The European Council’s final guidelines adopted on 29 January 2018 are very similar, and usually word for word.
The post-Hogmanay atmosphere is always sobering, and never more than this year when the party may be over for some many people in so many ways. During 2017, three great political experiments - Brexit, the Trump Presidency and the Catalonian independence project - failed to progress beyond the damage limitation stage into the payoffs their proponents expected. In Scotland, the snap UK election was a piece of bad luck for the SNP and accelerated the comeback of Scottish Conservatives and Labour.
The first stage deal reached between the UK and the EU27 is an important staging post, says Kirsty Huges, but any suggestions that this opens the path to an easy future relationship are wide of the mark.
The UK-EU27 deal on EU citizens’ rights, the divorce bill and Northern Ireland’s border will unlock the second stage of Brexit talks at next week’s European Council summit in Brussels. The summit is expected to issue guidelines on a transition period while the crucial trade guidelines will come later perhaps in February or March.