EU cool in the direction of British ‘affiliate membership’ in bloc’s businesses

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union is cool to the thought of Britain’s “associate membership” in varied businesses of the bloc as proposed by London to make Brexit much less disruptive for British business, with officers saying the strategy boils right down to cherry selecting.

Britain began a course of to depart the EU final yr as a result of it not needs to just accept the authority of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the free motion of employees and doesn’t need to contribute to the EU funds.

But it’s eager to maintain most of its different hyperlinks with the EU – particularly unfettered entry to the EU’s market.

EU officers name this strategy “cherry picking”, the place London chooses the areas it needs for nearer affiliation however doesn’t settle for the obligations linked to it in different areas, like ECJ oversight or free motion of individuals.

Last Friday, Prime Minister Theresa May floated the thought of Britain remaining an affiliate member of the European Medicines Agency, the European Chemicals Agency, and the European Aviation Safety Agency after Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.

She stated London understood this meant abiding by the foundations of these businesses and monetary contributions.

But EU officers concerned within the negotiations on the phrases of Britain’s exit from the bloc and deciding on the long run commerce relationship weren’t impressed.

“It is not so much ‘how’ they participate. That’s a technicality. The bigger question is ‘if’ they should participate. Why would we let them in?” one official stated.

“The bottom line is that the UK approach is cherry-picking. The EU has a vast number of agencies, and I think we’d think twice to let the UK ‘associate’ itself with a selected number they choose because they have an interest,” the official stated.

Brussels officers identified that an “associate membership” – a standing that doesn’t exist but and would have to be created particularly for Britain – wouldn’t give London the sort of entry to the EU single market it sought.

“It is not possible to accept ECJ oversight in only some segments of business in the EU and not in others,” a second EU official stated. “The single market is not made of bits and pieces you can pick and choose.”

An “associate membership” standing would additionally possible contain complicated authorized work within the EU to create it.

“The willingness to change regulations in order to accommodate the UK’s wishes… is limited because it entails lengthy legislative procedures,” a 3rd official stated.

The chairman of EU leaders, Donald Tusk, will current draft pointers for the EU’s future commerce cope with Britain in Luxembourg on Wednesday.


The closest to an “associate membership” the EU has now could be with nations within the European Economic Area however not EU members — Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland — which may participate in conferences, however they don’t have voting rights.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, stated final November that work of the EU businesses was based mostly on EU legal guidelines, which Britain not needs to just accept and will then go on and construct its personal.

“The same people who argue for setting the UK free also argue that the UK should remain in some EU agencies. But freedom implies responsibility for building new UK administrative capacity,” Barnier stated.

“On our side, the 27 will continue to deepen the work of those agencies, together. They will share the costs for running those agencies. Our businesses will benefit from their expertise. All of their work is firmly based on the EU treaties, which the UK decided to leave,” he stated.

May argued in her speech final week that each commerce settlement, which targeted on some elements of an economic system greater than on others, was some type of “cherry picking”.

“With all its neighbors the EU has varying levels of access to the single market, depending on the obligations those neighbors are willing to undertake,” she stated.

“What would be cherry-picking would be if we were to seek a deal where our rights and obligations were not held in balance. And I have been categorically clear that is not what we are going to do,” she stated.

But EU officers stated that Britain would solely get the “bespoke” commerce settlement it sought with the EU if it agreed to steadiness the rights and obligations in a means that may not choose aside the EU single market.

The bloc would additionally have to be sure that the deal is much less engaging than EU membership.

“Nobody asked after the EU trade agreement with Canada, or Korea: ‘why can’t we be like Canada or Korea?’. The point is that also after Brexit nobody should ask themselves: ‘why can’t we be like Britain?’,” the second official stated.

Reporting by Jan Strupczewski, Editing by William Maclean

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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