British government denounces plan for sanctions accusing EU of “dishonesty”

Friday, 09 February 2018 16:22
David Davies, and indeed many Conservative MPs, believe the draft text goes a step too far by potentially imposing sanctions on the UK. David Davies, and indeed many Conservative MPs, believe the draft text goes a step too far by potentially imposing sanctions on the UK.
The plan for EU sanctions, during the transition period after Brexit, is “unwise” and “dishonest”.
The British Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davies, denounced the plan on Thursday, in a statement of uncharacteristic virulence.

He stated to the media, “I do not think that it demonstrated integrity to publish this document using language which was frankly discourteous, implying that the EU could arbitrarily end the transition period.” He went on, “Publishing the document both demonstrates dishonesty and is unwise.”

He was commenting upon the document revealed on Wednesday by the European Union, which includes a “toolbox” of sanctions to “avoid foul play” by the British government during the transition period after the divorce.

The draft text is attempting to fix the rules imposed upon the United Kingdom for the transition period, after it leaves the EU on March 29th, 2019. The text anticipates the possibility of sanctions, in particular “a mechanism enabling the Union to suspend certain benefits for the United Kingdom, flowing from its involvement in the Single Market.”

This clause, included in the form of a note to the draft agreement, was added when negotiations resumed on Tuesday in Brussels. Stefaan De Rynck, an adviser to Michel Barnier, the European Chief Negotiator for the UK exiting the EU, explained, “The European Union is responding to Theresa May’s request for the UK to benefit from both the Single Market and the Customs Union, for a limited time, during which all parties will play by the same rules.”

De Rynck posted a message on his Twitter account to this effect. He stressed, “Anticipating the possibility of sanctions, in the event of foul play, forms part of this agreement.”

The addition had provoked anger, on the part of several Conservative MPs in the United Kingdom, on Wednesday. Bernard Jenkin, the influential Conservative MP said on the BBC, “These idiotic threats show the full extent of the European Union’s fear.” Jacob Rees-Mogg considered , "This will be very difficult for Theresa May to accept.” Rees-Mogg is himself perceived as one of the Prime Minister’s main political rivals.

Remaining within the Single Market will enable the United Kingdom to continue trading freely with other EU member states, whilst not having customs controls in place during the transition period. At the same time, British citizens will be able to continue to live and work in any other EU member state.

Oscar Schneider
The Brussels Times
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