The Latest: UK, 3 non-EU nations ink ex-pat residency deal
LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Britain’s plans to leave the European Union (all times local):
The British government has agreed to allow citizens of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein already living in Britain to remain after Brexit even if the country leaves the European Union without a deal.
The agreement finalized on Friday should remove the uncertainty a “hard” Brexit scenario posed for some 15,000 citizens of the three non-EU nations who live in Britain.
The deal’s reciprocal arrangement also clarifies plans for some 17,000 British citizens who reside in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
Those countries aren’t EU members, but belong to the much-smaller EEA EFTA group. EEA EFTA spokesman Thorfinnur Omarsson said Monday the agreement secured their citizens’ rights in Britain “regardless of the outcome of negotiations between the EU and the U.K.”
The four governments struck an initial agreement in December after British Prime Minister Theresa May reached a divorce deal with the EU that British lawmakers later rejected.
A Dutch consumer watchdog is urging companies that do business with Britain to register now for digital systems that are used to process import and export checks and to issue certificates, warning there could be a rush if there is a no-deal Brexit.
The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority said Monday that registration usually takes around two weeks, It warned the time frame “can rise significantly if many businesses register at the last minute because of a no-deal Brexit.”
With British lawmakers yet to approve a divorce agreement with the European Union, it remains unclear which import and export regime will apply from the exit date now set for March 29.
Dutch business groups and authorities have long warned local companies to “hope for the best and prepare for the worst” ahead of Brexit.
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel says the U.K. is a “disunited kingdom” where pro-Brexit politicians lack ideas and courage.
With the country’s March 29 date for leaving the European Union closing in, Bettel said “a disunited kingdom is more a reality today than a United Kingdom.”
His remarks to reporters came after talks with EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.
For remaining EU members, Bettel says the ongoing uncertainty in London “puts us in a position where we don’t know what is likely to happen tomorrow.”
Bettel said: “The position of the Brexiteers today, to sum it up in one sentence is ’No. No, no and no.” There aren’t any alternative proposals from them.”
Laughing as he spoke, he said: “It is, in fact, the same protagonists for Brexit and a no-deal who do not have the courage either to put the issue to a peoples’ vote.”
The European Union’s Brexit negotiator is urging Prime Minister Theresa May to spell out how she plans to win over Parliament less than two months before Britain leaves.
Michel Barnier said Monday that he still doesn’t see a “clear and stable majority” of support among British lawmakers for any Brexit plan, especially one that would also respect the EU’s demands.
EU and U.K. officials are discussing what concessions the Europeans could make to help May push a deal through Parliament by Brexit day on March 29.
Barnier says that if “the United Kingdom wants to show greater ambition, we are also immediately ready... to be more ambitious” in a political declaration on their future ties.
But he insists the legally-binding divorce agreement between them can’t be renegotiated.
In its last full-year as a member of the European Union, Britain recorded a record trade deficit with the bloc.
The Office for National Statistics said the country’s trade in goods deficit with EU countries widened by 0.2 billion pounds in 2018 to a record 94.9 billion pounds ($122 billion).
That’s a big number that is likely to concentrate minds on all sides of the Brexit discussions as Britain’s March 29 date of departure nears.
The great worry is if Britain crashes out of the bloc without a trade deal that would put serious impediments including tariffs on EU-U.K. trade, which will damage both sides.
Seven of Britain’s top 10 export markets are in the EU, with Germany second behind the United States. And seven of Britain’s top 10 import markets are in the EU, with Germany on top of the pile.
Economists say a no-deal Brexit would affect more than 100,000 jobs in Germany that depend on trade with Britain, with the auto industry hardest hit.
The researchers at the Halle Institute for Economic Research said Monday they modelled what would happen if British imports from the European Union fell 25 percent due to lack of a negotiated trade arrangement.
Among the places with the most jobs at stake would be Wolfsburg in north-central Germany, where Volkswagen is headquartered, and the Dingolfing-Landau region in southern Bavaria, where BMW has manufacturing facilities. If Britain leaves the European Union without a trade deal, that would mean a 10 percent import duty on cars and car parts.
The authors cautioned the figures do not predict that many people would be laid off. German companies could put workers on shorter hours or find markets other than Britain.
Switzerland and Britain have finalized a deal to maintain their trade and economic ties as they are — whether or not Britain reaches a deal with the European Union over its exit from the 28-nation bloc.
The government of Switzerland, which is not an EU member, says the agreement “replicates the vast majority of the trade agreements with the EU that currently govern relations between Switzerland and the United Kingdom.”
British International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Swiss Federal Councilor Guy Parmelin, who heads the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, finalized the deal between their countries in Bern on Monday.
The accord follows a Swiss “Mind the Gap” strategy developed after British voters approved Brexit. It covers issues like free trade, public procurement, agriculture and the fight against fraud.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking a compromise with opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn in hopes of securing a divorce deal with the European Union.
Justice Minister Rory Stewart told the BBC on Monday that differences between the two aren’t as great as some suggest, but the government can’t accept a customs union that would prevent Britain from negotiating trade deals with other countries. He says May’s agreement can achieve “a great deal of what Jeremy Corbyn is interested in without taking away that option of having other trade deals.”
Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, but Parliament has rejected May’s divorce deal. EU leaders have rejected any changes to the legally binding withdrawal agreement.
The impasse risks a chaotic departure that would hurt the economy.