EU-UK Brexit talks: Differences clear after first week

European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (R) and the British Prime Minister's Europe adviser David Frost at the start of talks on 2 March Image copyright AFP Image caption UK lead negotiator David Frost (L) appeared with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier when the talks started on Monday

More than 100 British negotiators are heading home from Brussels after the first week of talks with the EU over the future relationship with the UK.

The two sides sound quite positive and appear to agree on some technicalities in areas like transport and energy.

But there are some big disagreements about some big things.

The two sides agree that their new free trade agreement should include measures to ensure fair economic competition between them.

The EU wants this to be done by referring to current EU standards in some policy areas – which are also UK standards – for now. They would be used as a “reference point” to judge whether future standards had changed or not.

Skip Twitter post by @MichelBarnier

An agreement with the #UK will be difficult, but possible. A lot more work needs to be done. Looking forward to seeing @DavidGHFrost in London on 18 March.

👇 My closing remarks following the 1st round of negotiations 🇪🇺🇬🇧

— Michel Barnier (@MichelBarnier) March 5, 2020


End of Twitter post by @MichelBarnier

The UK sees this as being asked to follow EU rules in perpetuity – “dynamic alignment by another name”, said a British official. The Brits also think it would prove impossible to work out in five or 10 years’ time whether new EU and British rules were similar or not.

Law enforcement

If the sensitive personal data of EU citizens, such as DNA or criminal records, is going to be shared with the UK for crime-fighting purposes, then the EU wants the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to be the ultimate arbiter of the rules.

The EU also wants the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to apply.

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The UK does not want the ECJ to be mentioned anywhere in any deal. It also says that committing to the ECHR in an international agreement ties the government’s hands at a time when it’s carrying out its own review into the operation of human rights law in the UK.

Governance: One deal or many?

The UK says most countries interact with the EU via a series of separate agreements covering individual policy areas. Individual agreements come with their own terms and conditions and means of settling disputes. This would be the easiest way to manage different areas which have different needs,

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