BRUSSELS, July 25
A seven-year brake on EU migrants, single market access, UK contributions to the EU budget, and UK cooperation in EU security structures – formal talks on Britain’s exit from the Union have not begun, but a deal is already taking shape.
Senior British and EU sources, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Observer, a British weekly out on Sunday (24 July), that the UK would be allowed to exclude EU workers for up to seven years but would get permanent access to the single market.
They said the UK would still have to make large payments into the EU budget, on the model of associated nations such as Norway and Switzerland.
The seven-year brake deal would go much further than the four-year brake on some types of welfare for EU migrants that the UK had been offered prior to the referendum.
Commenting on The Observer’s report, Dutch MEP Hans van Baalen said the UK would also have to let EU migrants who are already living in the UK stay in place.
“If the rights of EU citizens now living the UK can be guaranteed permanently by the UK government, then I think we can look at some form of emergency brake on free movement of labour,” he said.
Philip Hammond, the British finance minister, told the BBC at a G20 meeting in China: “What we now need to do is get on with it in a way that minimises the economic impact on the UK economy in the short term and maximises the benefit in the long term.
“I don’t think they [the EU] are in punishment mode.”
But John Redwood, a Conservative MP, told The Observer that temporary curbs on EU immigration would not be good enough.
“The UK did not recently vote for a slightly beefed up version of [former British PM] Mr Cameron’s attempted renegotiation with the EU. We voted to leave, to take back control of our laws, our money and our borders”, he said.
The issue of UK contributions to the EU budget could also prove difficult.
Britain last year paid €21.2 billion gross into the EU treasury.
It got back €5.8 billion under the terms of its rebate and a further €5.3 billion in EU payments for British farmers and other beneficiaries, but with the perks and benefits also up for renegotiation, its post-Brexit net payment could still be substantial.
Keith Vaz, a senior MP from the opposition Labour party, said Britain should also maintain cooperation with Europol, the EU’s joint police agency, and take part in the EU arrest warrant, which speeds up extraditions.
He noted that Theresa May, the new British PM and former home secretary, had also praised Europol and the EU warrant prior to the referendum.
“After the Munich attack and other attacks across Europe, it is even more important that these relationships continue”, he told The Observer, referring to a shooting on Friday in Germany that killed nine people.
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