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EU rubbishes UK’s post-Brexit customs plan

The EU’s Brexit negotiators have reasserted that the UK’s withdrawal terms must be settled before future arrangements can be discussed.

The UK government published a policy document on 15 August proposing an arrangement whereby it can sign trade deals with non-EU countries during a Brexit transition period. The document also calls for a “a continued close association with the EU customs union for a time-limited period after the UK has left the EU”.

Within hours of the publication, Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit negotiator, dismissed the proposals. He said that the UK’s aspiration to be both “in and out” of the customs union—thus continuing its close collaboration with EU countries while negotiating deals with states outside the bloc—was a “fantasy”. He stressed the need to secure citizens’ rights and agree on a financial settlement before anything else.

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