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UK-EU Non-negotiations and Non-papers

House of Lords: The Minister of State, Cabinet Office

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I will now make a Statement to update the House on various recent developments in our relationship with the European Union. The Statement will also be made in the other place in due course by my right honourable friend the Paymaster-General.

As noble Lords will know well, we have two principal agreements with the EU: the trade and co-operation agreement and the withdrawal agreement. ....

In my view, this process of negotiations has not reached its end. Although we have been talking for nearly four weeks, there remain possibilities that the talks have not yet seriously examined, including many approaches suggested by the UK. So there is more to do and I certainly will not give up on this process unless and until it is abundantly clear that nothing more can be done. We are certainly not at that point yet. If, however, we do in due course reach that point, the Article 16 safeguards will be our only option.

We have been abundantly clear about this since July, when we made it clear that the tests for using Article 16 were already passed. Nothing that has happened since has changed that. I can reassure noble Lords that, if Article 16 were to be used, we would set out our case with confidence and spell out why it was wholly consistent with our legal obligations. We would also be ready to explain that case to any interested party, not just the signatories to the treaty but those with a broader interest in relations with the EU and the UK.

However, the EU seems to be arguing something different at the moment. It seems to be claiming that it would be entirely unreasonable for the British Government, uniquely, to use these wholly legitimate safeguard provisions within the treaty, designed precisely to deal with situations like the current one. It also suggests that we can only take that action at the price of massive and disproportionate retaliation.

I gently suggest that our European friends should stay calm and keep things in proportion.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Fri Nov 12th, 2021 at 10:35:44 AM EST
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