THE EDITOR: As the head of the political/economic team at the British High Commission I would like to address the mischaracterisation of the United Kingdom (UK) in an article by columnist Jean Antoine-Dunne published in Section A of the September 4 Newsday, “Putting Britain in her place”.
As negotiations continue between the UK and the European Union (EU), it is imperative to note that the UK continues to work toward strengthening and deepening the special partnership with the EU. A stable, successful EU is in our interest.
The UK’s approach has been informed by a series of detailed papers produced by Whitehall over the past 12 months. They include papers on Northern Ireland; customs; goods; civil judicial cooperation; data; enforcement and dispute resolution; and technical matters regarding our separation, such as ongoing confidentiality obligations, but offer pragmatic and innovative solutions to the issues arising from the UK’s withdrawal.
The approach taken by the UK to set out our positions is designed to progress the current negotiations as swiftly as possible.
During this process both sides are required to extend some flexibility and imagination. The UK’s aim, as indicated by David Davis MP, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, is not to “dictate a single approach, but rather considered options for us to work on, especially since our future relationship is inextricably linked with the EU.”
As the UK engages further in discussion the principle of reciprocity remains at the forefront — that is, what works for Brits in the EU must work for EU citizens in the UK. To that end the UK and EU have made significant progress with negotiations.
At this stage the legal text is not the priority, instead, a detailed understanding of each other’s position, and understanding where compromises can be made is the focus. It is important to note that the UK is a European country: culturally, geographically, in terms of global outlook and values.
The UK is committed to a “global Britain”: a country actively engaged in Europe and the world in the interests of the British people, and playing a leading role in advancing European and international security and an international rules-based system. As such, the UK has made it a priority to publish future partnership papers, which are different from our position papers as they demonstrate a concerted effort by the UK to drive progress.
Some of the issues currently raised in negotiations can only be resolved by recognising the importance of the new partnership and how it will work. A simple example of this was given by Davis on financial matters.
Davis indicated that the UK will no longer be making vast yearly contributions to the EU budget once withdrawn, but there may be programmes that the UK wants to consider participating in as part of the new partnership that we seek.
As we look to the future of the negotiations the UK will be publishing further papers that continue to set out our ambition for the negotiations and a new and special partnership that the UK seeks to build with the EU.
It is worth remembering the words of Davis that “being dynamic is integral to driving forward these talks at pace and to providing the best outcomes for people and businesses — not just in the UK, but in the EU as well.”