UK wants to keep EU customs relationship during transition

A British flag (left) and EU flag (right) hang outside Europe House, the European Parliament's British offices, in London (Matt Dunham / AP)

The UK signaled in government policy papers published Tuesday that it wishes to continue its close customs union with the European Union during the estimated three-year transition period following Britain's planned exit in March 2019, per the Financial Times. The EU response:

  • Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament's lead coordinator on Brexit, tweeted: "To be in & out of the Customs Union & 'invisible borders' is a fantasy. First need to secure citizens rights & a financial settlement."
  • A spokesman for the European commission: "We take note of the UK's request... but we will only address them once we have made sufficient progress on the terms of the orderly withdrawal... We see the UK's publication of a series of position papers as a positive step towards now really starting phase one of the negotiations."
  • Michel Barnier, the European Chief Negotiator for Brexit, on Twitter: "The quicker #UK & EU27 agree on citizens, settling accounts and #Ireland, the quicker we can discuss customs & future relationship."