The U.K. is seeking to regain momentum in so-far sluggish Brexit negotiations in the hope the European Union won’t delay the start of trade talks beyond October.
The government will this week publish the first of three discussion papers ahead of the next round of negotiations, scheduled to start Aug. 28 in Brussels, Brexit Secretary David Davis’s office said in a statement on Sunday.
The documents — setting out proposals for Northern Ireland and the border with Ireland, continuity on the availability of goods and confidentiality, and access to official documents after Brexit — will seek to prove the U.K. is ready for talks to advance to the next stage, according to the statement.
Britain is struggling with the negotiations, and the pace has sparked concerns a March 2019 deadline will arrive without a deal being reached. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, warned EU ambassadors last month that the lack of progress meant talks on the future relationship with the U.K., including a free-trade agreement, may not be possible by the next leader’s summit in October, and may have to extended.
“I’ve launched this process because with time of the essence, we need to get on with negotiating the bigger issues around our future partnership to ensure we get a deal that delivers a strong U.K. and a strong EU,” Davis said. “It’s what businesses across Europe have called on both sides to do and will demonstrate that the U.K. is ready for the job.”
Barnier has maintained that negotiators must make progress on the rights of EU and British citizens, the border with Ireland and Britain’s exit payment before discussing a trade deal, while Prime Minister Theresa May wants an accord before leaving.
“We’ve been crystal clear that issues around our withdrawal and our future partnership are inextricably linked, and the negotiations so far have reinforced that view,” the Department for Exiting the EU said in the statement released Sunday. “These papers show we are ready to broaden out the negotiations.”
The first three formal position papers will be published ahead of the talks at the end of the month, the department said.
A series of broader “future partnership” papers will also be published in the run-up to the October meeting. The first of these will set out proposals for a new customs agreement, it said.
EU leaders will meet in Brussels on Oct. 19, then again on Dec. 14.
UK Seeks to Convince EU It’s Ready to Advance Brexit Talks – Bloomberg