UK, EU strike tentative Brexit deal on financial services

London: London and Brussels have agreed a preliminary deal that would see British financial services retain access to European Union markets after Brexit, The Times newspaper reported on Thursday. British and EU negotiators have struck a tentative agreement on all aspects of a future partnership on services and the exchange of data, the daily said, citing UK government sources. Such a deal would guarantee British companies access to EU markets as long as domestic regulations remained broadly aligned with those set by Brussels.
The pound started to rally against the dollar following the publication of the report at midnight (00:00 GMT). It stood at a weekly high of about $1.29 around 07:30 GMT.
Financial services are a major part of Britain’s economy and access to European markets has been a key concern in the Brexit negotiations.
Currently, the EU would be able to withdraw market access with a month’s notice if it decides that a partner country no longer has equivalent financial services regulations.
The report in The Times suggested that neither London nor Brussels would be able to declare unilaterally that regulations had fallen out of equivalence and block access to their markets without first going through independent arbitration and a notice period significantly longer than one month.
Britain’s Brexit minister Dominic Raab believes a divorce deal with the European Union could be struck by November 21, it emerged on Wednesday, prompting EU leaders to warn this would require a breakthrough within days.
In a letter to a parliamentary scrutiny panel, he wrote: “I would be happy to give evidence to the committee when a deal is finalised, and currently expect 21 November to be suitable.”
But Raab’s ministry later admitted there was “no set date for the negotiations to conclude”.
Most of the divorce deal with Brussels is agreed but talks remain stuck on how to avoid new checks on Britain’s land border with EU member Ireland after it leaves the bloc’s single market and customs union.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt echoed the optimism, telling an event in London: “It’s entirely possible that we could make enough progress by then.”
However, May’s spokesman was more cautious, repeating only that “we wish to conclude the deal as quickly as possible”.
Most of the divorce deal with Brussels is agreed but talks remain stuck on how to avoid new checks on Britain’s land border with EU member Ireland after it leaves the bloc’s single market and customs union.
Raab will visit the UK province of Northern Ireland on Friday on a “fact-finding trip”, which will include meetings with local businesses and politicians, an official in his ministry said.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said that if a deal were to be struck this month, there must be major progress next week.
“We are at a moment of truth. If there is to be a breakthrough in November, then we need the negotiating teams to find a way forward in the next week or so,” he said. — AFP