There is good news liberally written into practically every part of the EU’s draft negotiating text for a future partnership. In most cases their plans for future conduct revolve around both parties observing international agreements that both are signed up to. So these matters do not need negotiating or even embedding in a new agreement.
We are told relatively friction free borders for goods will rely on the Facilitation of Trade Agreement from the WTO. Exporters and Importers will use the global system of Authorised Economic operators to speed their way across frontiers. The measures on technical barriers and Phytosanitary issues will be founded on the WTO model. The sanitary and phytosanitary requirements themselves will come from global agreements including Codex Alimentarius, the International Plant Convention, and the World Organisation for Animal Health standards.
Access to each other’s government contracts will stem from both belonging to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement. Nuclear matters will be under global rules and controls. Law enforcement will be under the Council of Europe Conventions. Anti Money Laundering will be under FATF. In some cases the EU says it would like to go further than these world standards that we use today, but without saying how and why.
All this makes the excessive demands and threats more silly. The document is an attempt to recreate all the rules and regulations of the current Treaties and apply them to the UK after we have left, whilst of course the UK would have no vote or voice on any of them as they evolve. The UK government has already made clear it does not accept this “level playing field” view that we become rule takers.
The crudest threat is over the fish. We are told the fishing issues have to be settled by 1 July, before the rest of any Agreement is decided. The Union wishes to avoid loss of fish for its fishermen (sic) though one of the wins for the UK is to get control of our fishing stocks and to land more of the fish in the UK. They suggest we will be blocked on a Free Trade Agreement if we do not sacrifice the fish again.
There is also a continuing refrain that we must play by their rules on everything from the environment and state aids to tax and climate change to qualify for whatever access they think appropriate to their market. They do not ask for any access to our market, where they sell us a lot of food which can attract high tariffs under global rules. They forget that of course we will have plenty of access to their market under WTO rules anyway for the things we sell them.
They confirm that the UK will not be under their control in foreign and defence policy. They state that they will “enable the UK to participate on a case by case basis and upon invitation of the Union in CSDP mission and operations open to third countries”. In other words it up to us and to them if we wish to join in on any particular mission.
The final insult is in the provisions over dispute resolution. Whilst they propose a joint body with every effort to resolve disagreements, they cannot resist inserting the European Court of Justice into any reference to “independent” arbitration. This is a silly provocation.