European diplomats have started drafting a Brexit transition offer that would probably allow the UK to remain in the single market for about two years after it leaves the bloc in March 2019. However, some officials and diplomats involved in the talks warned that London should not assume that it can hammer out an initial agreement next month to open negotiations on post-Brexit relations. The most immediate points to be discussed are the “scope” and “duration” of a transition, including how far Britain could remain in the single market and all its obligations. The other areas include fisheries, agriculture but also defense.
During the transition period, Britain will be expected to abide by EU legislation even if it is changed during that time. “Anything else would be too complicated,” an EU official said. “The EU view on the transition period and the future will in a way be a moment of truth, exposing all the lies of those who campaigned for Brexit, saying that Britain will be able to have the cake and eat it,” another EU diplomat said.
The next point on the most immediate agenda is to gather some views on the trade relations following the transition period, which may finish in December 2020, at the end of the current 7-year EU budgetary period. EU leaders reiterated to Prime Minister Theresa May in October that they were not willing to negotiate post-Brexit trade arrangements until her cabinet offered more concessions on its Brexit terms. Some officials think that the longer it takes to negotiate divorce talks, the more probable it is that EU leaders will again refuse to open trade negotiations next month.