Giant parrot, species ‘Ara brexitus’ found in UK. Hasn’t moved for 2 years. UK government officials insist it’s not dead and can still fly.
With many thanks to: Scientists for EU for the original posting.
Michel Barnier has rebuffed British calls for the European Union to soften its stance on the contested issue of the Irish border and said a “moment of truth” was fast approaching on a Brexit deal.
May will appeal directly to EU leaders at a summit in Salzburg to soften their stance over UK access to the single market and customs union. She is expected to tell them on Wednesday night that Brussels needs to shift. A senior No 10 official said: “To come to a successful conclusion, just as the UK has evolved its position, the EU will need to do the same.”
Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said the bloc was ready to improve its proposal on avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland but stopped short of accepting British ideas for compromise, after the Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, called on the EU to show flexibility.
“The European council in October will be the moment of truth, it is the moment when we shall see if we have an agreement,” Barnier said.
The Irish border has emerged as the biggest stumbling block to the Brexit deal that Theresa May hopes to strike with the EU this autumn. While the EU and UK have agreed there should be no hard border to prevent any return to violence, they are deadlocked over how to manage what will become a 310-mile frontier between the UK and EU.
Both sides have proposed fallback plans, known as backstops, that would kick into place if trade talks fail to settle the question. The EU’s involves Northern Ireland following EU law on customs and goods, a plan May has said no British prime minister could ever accept.
Barnier said the EU was working to improve its proposal, adding that the problem had been caused by “the UK’s decision to leave the EU, its single market and the customs union”. Seeking to counter British criticism that the EU plan eroded UK sovereignty, he said: “What we talking about here is not a land border, not a sea border, it is a set of technical checks and controls. We respect the territorial integrity of the UK and we respect the constitutional order of the UK.”
Barnier was speaking after a 90-minute meeting with the EU’s 27 European affairs ministers at a summit in Brussels. Many countries intervened in the debate to stress the importance of reaching a deal and its timing.
Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, got a full update from Barnier on the backstop developments and later described his meeting as “excellent”. The Irish cabinet had earlier agreed to hire 451 new staff for border duties out of a total of 1,077 needed for ports and airports.
Ireland is among several EU countries concerned that having an emergency summit in November will take the pressure off the British in the coming weeks.
May will appeal to EU leaders at a summit in Salzburg to soften their stance over UK access to the single market and customs union. She is expected to tell them on Wednesday night that Brussels needs to shift. A senior No 10 official said: “To come to a successful conclusion, just as the UK has evolved its position, the EU will need to do the same.”
Downing Street believes that the UK has developed its negotiating position to reach the Chequers plan and it is now time for other EU countries to show some flexibility in order to finally strike a deal. The prime minister will argue that with “goodwill and determination” the UK and the EU could avoid a “disorderly” Brexit that would be damaging for both sides and instead strike a deal that benefited both.
“Neither side can demand the ‘unacceptable’ of the other, such as an external customs border between different parts of the United Kingdom. No other country would accept it if they were in the same situation,” she will say.
May will tell her fellow leaders that the EU’s current proposal does not respect the constitutional and economic integrity of the UK as it effectively suggests a customs border down the Irish Sea with its backstop plan.
She is expected to deny suggestions by EU officials that the UK is attempting to cherry-pick by seeking the rights of membership without the obligations.
“That is not what we are doing,” she will say. “What we are proposing is a fair arrangement that will work for the EU’s economy as well as the UK’s, without undermining the single market.”
No 10 has been cautiously optimistic in recent days that the UK can expect a softening of tone at the Salzburg summit from some EU leaders who are keen to nail down a Brexit deal this autumn.
It remains to be seen whether that translates into a shift in negotiating position from Brussels, where officials have been more sceptical. The EU27 will wait to discuss next steps, including whether to relax Barnier’s negotiating mandate, until May has left the room.
Meanwhile, Brussels is preparing to step up its legal action against the UK in a case of alleged customs fraud. The European commission has accused HM Revenue and Customs of negligence in controls that enabled Chinese fraudsters to evade duties, causing a €2.7bn (£2.4bn) loss to the EU budget.
The commission will announce the next step in the process on Wednesday, the final stage before it can take the government to the European court of justice.
Brussels launched the action in March, and British officials see the timing of the latest move – on the eve of the Salzburg summit – as provocative. “I can only speculate on the reasons, but it seems pretty obvious what is going on,” a No 10 insider said.
A government spokesman said: “The UK does not accept liability for the alleged losses or recognise the estimate of alleged duty evaded. We take customs fraud very seriously and we continue to evolve our response as new threats emerge.”
The alleged fraud has raised tensions between the EU and UK, contributing to mistrust about British officials’ ability to collect duties on behalf of the bloc, as proposed by the government in its unprecedented customs partnership.
With many thanks to: The Guardian for the original story.
The Irish border is the single biggest sticking point at this stage of the Brexit negotiations.
The prime minister has pledged to leave the EU’s customs union and single market but at the same time has promised no hardening of the border.
That means no new physical infrastructure and no new checks or controls for customs or product standards
Her solution is the Chequers plan, with its “combined customs territory” and “continued harmonisation” with EU rules on goods and agriculture.
Now, the European Research Group (ERG), which backs a “clean-break Brexit”, has suggested another way, which avoids the need to follow all those EU rules.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, who chairs the ERG, said it provided a solution for the Irish border “in a way that any reasonable person would think meets the requirements of the European Union’s concerns over the single market”.
It has similarities to an earlier government plan, which proposed the continuation of some existing UK-EU arrangements and the use of technology to make it easier to comply with customs procedures.
The Irish border: Brexit’s 310-mile problem
Reality Check: The Brexit challenge for Irish trade
Reality Check: How much trade is there between UK and Ireland?
Perhaps the most difficult issue for the Irish border is the movement of food and agriculture products.
Those products are the major component of cross-border trade but they also face some of the strictest EU rules.
The rules mean consignments of food or animals can enter the EU only through specified border inspection posts.
Those involve mandatory document checks and a significant proportion of consignments must also be physically checked.
It is likely the challenge posed by those rules nudged the prime minister towards the “common rule book”, which would involve signing a treaty committing the UK to continued harmonisation with EU rules.
The ERG approach is for an “equivalence” arrangement, where the EU would accept that, while UK food and agriculture rules would be different, they would still be as good as EU rules and would not put consumers at risk.
It backs this up with reference to a World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement on food and plant safety, suggesting this would require the EU to offer equivalence
However, many trade experts believe this overstates the particular strength of that agreement.
The ERG document also mentions the equivalence provision in the EU-Canada trade deal – but it doesn’t add that under that deal there are still documentary checks on all meat and dairy imports, with 10% subject to physical checks.
The EU has been prepared to remove requirements for border inspection but only with countries that have adopted its rules.
Switzerland is an example – it modifies its laws in response to changes in EU legislation and must monitor third-country exports at EU-approved border inspection posts.
So, the sort of equivalence the ERG is hoping for would mean a unique approach by the EU.
One intriguing aspect of the ERG report is that, when it comes to agricultural products, it approves of the existing arrangements that mean the whole island of Ireland is a “common biosecurity zone”.
This means that animals being moved from Great Britain into Northern Ireland are subject to checks and controls, even though this is an internal UK movement.
Those animals need an import licence and the exporter needs to arrange for an approved vet to examine the animals before they leave for Northern Ireland.
The vet will then apply for an export health certificate. An animal transport certificate is also required.
The animals and all the paperwork are checked on arrival at Larne Harbour, County Antrim.
The report says: “It has been recognised by all communities on the island of Ireland that it is sensible to capitalise on the protection afforded by the sea.”
Does that leave the door open to additional checks, for example, of food products, that are being imported from Great Britain into Northern Ireland?
That would eliminate the need for border inspection posts but is unlikely to be approved of by the Democratic Unionist Party, whose support in Parliament the government needs.
And again, this is an area where a flexible approach would be required by the EU as there is no other example of a common biosecurity zone between the EU and a region of a non-EU country.
Another area where the ERG is hoping for an accommodating approach from the EU is on VAT.
The report proposes that the UK would have continued access to the EU’s VAT Information Exchange System (VIES).
That would help avoid the need for VAT liabilities to be assessed by customs officials as products arrived at the Irish border.
The ERG also describes the VAT system as providing a framework for streamlining customs controls.
That streamlining involves:
filing documents electronically
the use of licensed customs brokers
having any inspections at the factory rather than the border
Familiar plans for “trusted trader” schemes are also laid out.
The concern for small businesses in particular is that this is not frictionless trade – it means more red tape and the use of customs brokers, for example, would mean additional costs.
More fundamentally, it is not at all clear on what terms the EU would allow continued access to the VIES and if those terms would be acceptable to the ERG.
Would the UK agree to continued adherence to the EU VAT Directive and oversight from the European Court of Justice?
Would the UK seek an even deeper VAT agreement than the one Norway was – an arrangement that took four years to negotiate?
With many thanks to: BBCNews for the original story.
For breaking the Brexit negotiation deadlock over the Irish border will be unveiled today by leading Tory Eurosceptics.
Jacob Rees-Mogg suggests Irish border inspections after Brexit
Jacob Rees-Mogg’s European Research Group is expected to unveil a detailed plan showing how the UK and the EU can avoid the need for new border infrastructure including strict customs checks for crossings between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic after Brexit.
Customs officials could check goods bound for export to the Republic in Northern Ireland before the border, the report is expected to say.
Incidental inspections by teams of tax inspectors would have to be carried out to ensure customs regulations are being observed.
And a series of high-tech proposals to ensure customs checks can be carried out electronically with a minimum of friction will also be put forward.
The proposals are part of a series of documents being presented by the European Research Group as an alternative to the Prime Minister’s so-called “Chequers” proposals.
Speaking ahead of today’s launch in Whitehall, Mr Rees-Mogg said people could “come along and you will discover what our solution is to the Northern Ireland problem”.
He said the Irish border “is the only thing that is obstructing” a free trade agreement dubbed “Canada-plus” with the EU.
He added: “It is possible to move very swiftly to a Canada-plus style deal as long as we can come up with a scheme, which I think we have got for tomorrow, on how do you ensure a solution to the Northern Ireland problem that any reasonable person would accept.”
The dispute over the Irish border has turned into one of the biggest obstacles to a free trade between the UK and the EU.
EU Exit Secretary Dominic Raab and Brussels chief negotiator Michel Barnier were reported to have had a blazing row about the issue last week.
Irish border: Issue being used to ‘thwart’ Brexit says Dodds
Mr Barnier has claimed that keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s customs union and single market is the only way of avoiding a “hard border” between the two territories.
But the Prime Minister has repeatedly insisted the province cannot be treated differently to the rest of the UK.
Eurosceptics claim the issue is being exploited by the EU and Remainers to try to thwart a clean break with Brussels.
With many thanks to the: Daily Express for the original story.
The UK must submit written proposals on how it plans to keep a frictionless Irish border after Brexit in the next two weeks, Ireland’s foreign minister has said.
Simon Coveney said if that does not happen the UK will face an uncertain summer of talks.
Both the UK and EU say they are committed to keeping the Irish border open after Brexit.
However, a practical solution has not been agreed.
Brexit: All you need to know
Full text of the EU-UK statement
The EU and Ireland both insist Britain’s withdrawal treaty must lock in a backstop arrangement guaranteeing Northern Ireland will abide by EU regulations in case a future trade pact does not remove the need for border controls.
Britain has signed up to this, but has rejected the EU’s interpretation of what the backstop means.
“In the next two weeks, we need to see written proposals, it needs to happen two weeks from the summit,” Mr Coveney told the Irish Times newspaper, referring to a June summit of EU leaders that is supposed to mark significant progress on the issue.
“If there is no progress on the backstop, we are in for an uncertain summer.
“At this point we need written proposals on the Irish backstop consistent with what was agreed. We await written proposals from the British side.”
In February, the EU proposed a backstop which would involve the UK, in respect of Northern Ireland, maintaining full alignment with those rules of the EU’s single market and customs union which support north-south cooperation.
Prime Minister Theresa May said she could never agree to that as it would “threaten the constitutional integrity of the UK by creating a customs and regulatory border down the Irish Sea”.
With many thanks to: BBC News for the original story.
The stations are Castlederg and Aughnacloy in County Tyrone and Warrenpoint in County Down.
All three had been “previously identified for disposal”.
Brexit has returned the Irish border to the centre of Anglo-Irish politics and it is still unclear what it will look like when the UK leaves the EU.
Brexit: UK ‘has two weeks’ to submit border plans
Police ask for up to 400 more officers ahead of Brexit
BBC News NI previously reported that the sale of Warrenpoint station had been halted, and that it was believed Aughnacloy and Castlederg stations were also to be taken off the market.
This has now been confirmed by the PSNI.
“In light of the UK referendum vote to leave the EU, we are reviewing decisions we previously made about some of our stations identified for disposal,” Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin said.
Newry, Mourne and Down Council wanted to buy the former Warrenpoint station
“Accordingly, it is our intention to pause the disposal of three stations in border areas, namely Warrenpoint, Castlederg and Aughnacloy.
“As the PSNI has not yet received details regarding potential border arrangements, this is a precautionary step to ensure that, whatever Brexit looks like in the future, we will be able to continue to keep our communities safe.”
Newry, Mourne and Down Council wanted to buy the former station in Warrenpoint, which went on the market in 2016.
The plan was to convert it into a community centre.
The UK and EU have both said they do not wish to see a hard border after Brexit, but they have not been able to agree on how to avoid checks on goods once the UK has left the customs union and single market.
If there is no Brexit deal it is likely customs officials will have to carry out the checks and it will be the job of the police to protect them.
The Chief Constable of the PSNI is to ask the government to fund the recruitment of up to 400 additional officers for operations along the border after Brexit.
With many thanks to: BBC News for the original story
The recent two-day “no deal” meeting of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat appears to be the first time official Whitehall apparatus to deal with planning for emergencies and disasters has been used in anticipation of actual government policy.
It was one of the revelations about “Operation Yellowhammer”, the code name for no-deal contingency planning, included in a government document inadvertently leaked on Thursday.
The Civil Contingencies Secretariat, which services the COBRA emergency committee and is designed for “emergencies and disasters”, was created in 2001 during the foot and mouth crisis and in the aftermath of disruptive fuel protests.
The government would argue its involvement in no-deal Brexit planning is a sensible precaution, while Brexiteers might suggest it is necessary for a credible strategy to leave the EU without an agreement.
On the other hand, as Remainers have suggested, the deployment of the government’s civil planning system for emergencies and disasters was not exactly the promise of the Leave campaign during the EU referendum.
The detail of the Treasury memo is quite revealing in and of itself.
The Treasury is playing hardball with the £3bn earmarked for Brexit contingencies, encouraging departments to find funding for no deal plans from existing budgets first.
The same day as the revelation of the document, Health Secretary Matt Hancock disclosed taxpayer funds might be required to reimburse pharmaceutical companies for some no-deal costs.
The Civil Contingencies Secretariat was created during the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak
The document also reveals what the Treasury thinks is obvious, but is a view not necessarily shared elsewhere in government; that there will be a no-deal Brexit impact on “aviation and rail access to the EU”.
Its briefing paper states all departments need to come up with “consistent planning assumptions” for the disruption to traffic.
And the Treasury also sought to “remind departments of the need to consider the financial [robustness] of commercial firms that play a role in their [no-deal Brexit] contingency plans”.
This suggests concerns about the share prices and financial liquidity of key transport and logistics operators, in the event of no-deal.
The work of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat also raises questions about whether there are plans to deploy the Civil Contingencies Act, which gives central government emergency powers over local government and agencies.
More from Brexit
Medical supplies ‘unhindered’ in ‘no-deal’ Brexit, says health secretary
Operation Yellowhammer: ‘No-deal’ Brexit plans leaked
Michel Barnier tells MPs: Key parts of PM’s Brexit plan ‘dead’
Manchester mayor Andy Burnham calls for Article 50 extension to avoid ‘no-deal’ Brexit
Theresa May under further pressure to ‘chuck Chequers’
More than half disapprove of PM’s Brexit plan – Sky poll
Last month, Sky News revealed local councils are planning for a range of Brexit impacts from social care problems to social unrest.
Already there are concerns emergency police powers will be required to force lorry traffic to take certain routes under the no-deal Brexit traffic plan, named Operation Brock, to turn a 13-mile stretch of the Dover-bound M20 motorway into a lorry park.
With many thanks to: Sky News for the original story.