Britain and the European Union have agreed to resume talks on reaching a trade deal to govern their future relations, setting out a new set of “organising principles” for intensified talks to begin on Thursday.
The principles, as set out in a British government statement, are:
1. The parties have agreed to intensify negotiations. Talks will take place across all negotiating tables concurrently. Negotiations will take place daily including weekends, unless both sides agree otherwise.
2. This next and final phase of the negotiations will in principle be on the basis of each side’s legal texts while a common approach is found, unless lead negotiators in an individual workstream agree that a different approach is more appropriate.
3. Lead negotiators in each of the workstreams should move as quickly as possible to a read-through of both texts, with a view to identification of areas of convergence, which could be expressed either in a two/three-column table or consolidated texts depending on which tool lead negotiators deem most appropriate.
4. A small joint secretariat will be established to hold a master consolidated text. This will be staffed by officials and lawyers from both parties. The joint secretariat will establish a methodology for managing the legal texts, in consultation with the lead negotiators of each workstream.
5. This textual process should be accompanied by discussions in the workstreams on the outstanding, more political, issues, including the most difficult ones such as LPF (Level Playing Field), governance, fisheries, energy and goods/services provisions.
6. As has been the case in recent weeks, the Chief Negotiators and/or Deputy Chief Negotiators from both parties should meet in a restricted format, according to need. This group should have regard to the overall progress of the negotiations, consider issues escalated from the workstreams from the negotiation tables, give direction to workstream leads, and deal with the most sensitive political issues in the talks. This group should meet every day.
7. It is understood that, regardless of progress in individual workstreams, nothing is agreed in these negotiations until a final overall agreement is reached.
8. The initial phase of the negotiations will take place in London from 22 October until 25 October.
9. Thereafter the negotiations should take place in person in London and Brussels, or via teleconference, or a mix of the two, as agreed by both parties.
10. In managing the locations and logistics of this phase of the negotiation, both parties will give due regard to the evolving Covid-19 situation, the practicalities of travel, and, in particular, the different levels of risk in both London and Brussels.
They will prioritise their duty of care to the individuals in negotiating teams on both sides and make appropriate decisions on the basis of evidence as the final stages of the negotiation move forwards.