Since European Union and United Kingdom representatives reconvened in Brussels last month for Brexit talks, the British negotiating team has faced accusations of being unprepared—an impression that was only fueled by this photo:
Barnier and his staff sit down with a huge stack of notes. Davis and his crew have nothing. It's all in their heads? Sort of says it all. pic.twitter.com/wEwtXOYYXx— John Wheeler (@barleyscotch) July 17, 2017
The perception hangs over a critical moment in Brexit negotiations, in which both sides are expected to be hammering out a deal that will outline the terms of unresolved issues such as the rights of EU citizens in Britain (and vice versa), the U.K.’s financial obligations to the EU—known commonly as the “divorce bill”—and the fate of the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Both sides have set a deadline for all three issues to be addressed by October, though so far no agreements have been reached.
But the U.K. aims to shake this perception by revealing exactly where it stands on on all three issues, as well as others. Last week, the British government began publishing a series of what’s projected to be at least a dozen position papers detailing its desired path out of the EU. The first paper proposes a transitional agreement that would allow the U.K. to retain some of the benefits of being part of the EU customs union, through which members enjoy free trade without barriers, such as tariffs, without actually being a member of the bloc; the second, which addresses the issue of the land border between the Republic of Ireland (a member of the EU) and Northern Ireland (a member of the U.K.), reaffirms the British government’s opposition to reimposing customs checks and passport controls between the two countries. This week, the British government published several more position papers outlining its positions on a host of other issues, from the regulation of consumer goods to cross-border civil judicial cooperation.