British Brexit negotiators are reportedly resisting Brussels demands for the UK to implement all new EU laws during the transition period without any say over their content.
Leaked instructions to European Commission negotiators, set to be confirmed later on Monday, show Brussels will insist on the UK adopting all rules to preserve the integrity of the EU single market.
This would happen despite the UK having no EU commissioners, MEPs, and no seat on the council. The UK would also have no automatic right to attend meetings where regulations were agreed.
But the Financial Times reports that the UK wants to be able to at least vet laws before they come in. A senior Brussels official told the newspaper the UK was “wasting everyone’s time” trying to find a way to influence EU regulations from outside the bloc – especially considering both sides want to agree the transition deal by March.
The row comes after anger on the Tory right that the UK could become a “vassal state” of the EU after it leaves the EU, implementing laws and regulations with no say over them for years.
More fuel was added to the fire at the weekend after it emerged that UK negotiators were open to the possibility of an even longer transition period than the one suggested by the European Commission.
One vetting system is used in the European Economic Area, whose nations also implement EU rules without much say in deciding them. The EEA joint committee, which includes representatives from EEA states outside the EU, decides on how to amend the EEA agreement to shadow EU laws, though in practice it has little power to actually change regulations.
Updated guidelines for chief negotiator Michel Barnier dated 22 January 2018 specifically state that “as a general rule, the UK will not attend meetings” of key committees involved in drafting European regulations.
EU negotiators are set to insist that “exceptionally, on case-by-case basis” other EU states could “invite” Britain to observe a meeting without any right to influence its content – but only if it is in the interests of the EU, or the issue is solely about the UK.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also said yesterday he wanted the UK to “have influence over the regulations” it would implement after Brexit – in this case referring to long-term regulatory alignment.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies