The details of the plan for “deep and flexible” post-Brexit relations has been leaked ahead of the summit where it will be considered by European leaders.
The “political declaration” on the future relationship between the UK and EU was meant to be kept under wraps until the likes of German chancellor Angela Merkel had signed it off on Sunday.
But the contents of the 26-page document, which deals with areas like trade and security, slipped out after it was finalised following UK prime minister Theresa May’s visit to Brussels. Here are the main points:
The document delivers another blow to May’s Chequers plan for frictionless trade in goods. There’s no mention of “frictionless trade,” which the EU says is not possible outside of the single market.
It instead says that the future partnership “should facilitate trade and investment between the parties to the extent possible, while respecting the integrity of the union’s single market and the customs union.”
Specifically on goods, it says “moving goods across borders can pose risks to the integrity and proper functioning of these markets” but adds: “The parties envisage comprehensive arrangements that will create a free trade area, combining deep regulatory and customs cooperation.”
The biggest win for Brexiteers comes over the potential for their preferred solution to the Irish border issue.
The document commits the EU to “making use of all available facilitative arrangements and technologies” – that’s a victory for advocates of the so-called “max fac” solution to trade, such as former UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson.
Crucially, it adds that the EU is considering this solution for preventing a hard border in Ireland.
The controversial issue of fishing has been kicked down the road in order to get this deal over the line.
France are leading a group of countries which want guarantees on access to UK waters after Brexit. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has convinced them to put their concerns on ice until the negotiations on a free trade deal start.
And the document says the UK and EU “should establish a new fisheries agreement on access to waters and quota shares” that will need to reached by July 1 2020.
The document sets out how free movement of people will end, which May will use to sell the deal to Brexiteers.
It also only commits the UK to providing visa-free travel to EU citizens for “short-term visits”, meaning they may have to apply for a visa for long-term stays.
State aid, workers’ rights and the environment
The document is deliberately vague on rules over state aid, workers’ rights and the environment to ensure a “level playing field” in competition between the UK and EU.
The UK has already committed to maintaining current EU standards but this paragraph leaves open the possibility that the UK may have to go further in order to secure access to EU markets.
The declaration leaves the door open to UK participation in EU “civilian and military” missions under the the EU’s Common Defence and Security Policy (CSDP).
There is no mention of the thorny issue of Galileo, which the EU says the UK can’t have full access to after Brexit despite its major financial contribution to the satellite project.
The continued difficulty in resolving the issue is reflected in the face negotiations have only been able to agree on 10 vague words on the issue.
Brexit negotiations forever
The final point of the document sets out how, effectively, negotiations will continue forever through a “high-level conference” of UK and EU leaders “at least every six months” after Brexit.