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UK’s latest post-Brexit proposals acknowledge Rock’s ‘distinct’ priorities

Britain has set out proposals to ensure that trade in goods and services can continue with Europe after the point at which the UK leaves the European Union.

A position paper published by Brexit Secretary David Davis called for goods already on the market to be allowed to remain on sale in the UK and EU without additional requirements or restrictions following Brexit.

And it said any agreement should allow oversight arrangements to remain in place, permitting action to be taken against unsafe or non-compliant goods to preserve patient safety and consumer protection.

A second paper recommended a reciprocal agreement to ensure continued confidentiality for official documents shared by Britain with its EU partners while it was a member state.

Both documents make specific mention of Gibraltar, even though many of the proposals are not directly relevant to the Rock.

The position paper on goods states the UK Government will work with the devolved administrations and the governments of Gibraltar, the other Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies as Britain progresses negotiations with the EU.

“The Crown Dependencies, Overseas Territories and Gibraltar are constitutionally separate from the UK and have distinct interests,” it adds.

“We will fully engage with their respective governments to ensure their priorities on these issues are taken into account.”

A similar reference to the Rock is set out in the document on confidentiality.

“On the matter of confidentiality and access to documents, the [UK] Government will continue to take into full account the interests of all parts of the UK, including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as considering the priorities of the governments of Gibraltar, the other Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies,” the position paper said.

The publications come ahead of the third round of formal Brexit talks in Brussels next week, and are due to be followed in the coming days by papers setting out the UK's position on civil judicial co-operation, enforcement and dispute resolution and data protection.

Mr Davis said: “These papers will help give businesses and consumers certainty and confidence in the UK's status as an economic powerhouse after we have left the EU.”

“They also show that as we enter the third round of negotiations, it is clear that our separation from the EU and future relationship are inextricably linked.”

“We have already begun to set out what we would like to see from a future relationship on issues such as customs and are ready to begin a formal dialogue on this and other issues.”

Publication of the papers comes after an EU leader warned that slow progress in Brexit talks means the UK will not be able to progress to the second phase of negotiations in October as planned.

Leaders of the other 27 EU member states are due to decide then whether "sufficient progress" has been made on the UK's divorce deal for negotiations to move on to the post-Brexit trading relationship between Britain and its former partners.

Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar told the Guardian: “I think that the process will definitely take more time than we expected at the start of the negotiations.”

“There are so many difficult topics on the table, difficult issues there, that one cannot expect all those issues will be solved according to the schedule made in the first place.”

But a Downing Street spokeswoman said: “We are confident that we will have made sufficient progress by October to be able to advance talks to the next phase.”

“That is our aim and we are confident that we are working at a pace to be able to get to that point.”

Meanwhile, the Government's new chief trade negotiation adviser, Crawford Falconer, said the trade deals Britain could strike after Brexit would help boost global security.

Last week, the Government conceded that the UK would not be able to implement any new free trade agreements under a proposed customs transition deal expected to expire around two years after Brexit in March 2019.

But Professor Falconer, who will work alongside International Trade Secretary Liam Fox from this week, wrote in the Daily Telegraph: "There is a powerful political and security element to getting this right.

"History is littered with instances of the destructive political consequences of closed markets. This was a lesson well understood at the end of the last century's global conflicts."

He added: "Many countries still recognise that open trade policies directed at engaging with others are at the core of any strategy to improve the global prospects for political openness and stability. They are already looking to partner with us to re-energise that agenda."

A New Zealand/UK dual national with more than 25 years' experience, Prof Falconer will lead trade policy and the development of negotiation capability and will serve as an ambassador for Dr Fox's Department for International Trade.

A former senior official in New Zealand's foreign office and judge in international trade disputes, as well as a professor of trade at the Commonwealth country's Lincoln University, he was offered the post of Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser and Second Permanent Secretary following a global recruitment exercise.

Prof Falconer said: "As the UK prepares to leave the EU, we have a huge opportunity to be a world innovator, striking trade deals outside of Europe, and to be an ambassador for free trade across the world.”

"With 90% of new trade to coming from outside the EU in the next decades, this is an immensely exciting time to join the department, and I look forward to preparing for the important negotiations ahead."

The CBI described Mr Davis's position on trade as a "significant improvement" on EU proposals which would create a "severe cliff-edge" for goods currently on the market.

But director of campaigns John Foster said: "The only way to provide companies with the reassurance they need is through the urgent agreement of interim arrangements.”

"This would ensure that goods and services can still flow freely, giving companies the certainty they need to invest.”

"The simplest way to achieve that is for the UK to stay in the single market and a customs union until a comprehensive new deal is in force.”

"Both sides should agree to move talks on to interim arrangements as soon as possible to stem the loss of investment."

European Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein said that DExEU's publication of position papers would not alter the framework for talks drawn up by chief negotiator Michel Barnier and approved by the other 27 states.

"There is a very clear structure in place, set by the EU27, about how these talks should be sequenced and that is exactly what we think should be happening now," Mr Winterstein told a Brussels press conference.

"So the fact that these papers are coming out is, as such, welcome because we see this as a positive step towards now really starting the process of negotiations.”

"But as Michel Barnier has said time and again, we have to have sufficient progress first on the three areas of citizens' rights, financial settlement and Ireland, and only then can we move forwards to discussing the future relationship.”

"The important thing is to realise that the clock is ticking, that we have no time to lose and that we need to get on with it.”

"We have been preparing ourselves now for a very long time.”

"Our team is ready and has been ready the whole month of August and we are now analysing these papers and we look forward to the next negotiating round...”

"Hopefully we can make fast progress on the three areas I have mentioned because once we have reached sufficient progress there, we can move on to the second stage."

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