In an early victory for Britain, the Government and European Commission confirmed “negotiations shall be conducted in English”. Only in “justified circumstances” will the negotiation teams be able to alternate to French when formal talks begin on Monday. A joint document published today adds: “Interpretation from and into French will be provided at the expense of the party using French.”
The EU will also have to spend cash translating any joint document into the bloc’s 24 official languages with the originals set to be published in English.
The Prime Minister’s lead negotiator David Frost will bring his 40-strong team of Taskforce Europe officials for 11 parallel negotiating rounds next week in Brussels.
They will be reinforced by a horde of experts based at the UK’s Mission to Brussels in the Belgian capital.
In the first week, officials will discuss key areas such as trade in goods, fisheries and the “level playing field for open and fair competition”.
Deputy chief negotiators will be report back to their bosses who will hold wrap-up sessions at the end of each day.
In another blow for Brussels, the EU has been blocked from publishing documents submitted by the British negotiation team.
Michel Barnier’s Commission negotiators will also be restricted from sharing some sensitive memos with European capitals.
The “Terms of Reference”, which sets out the code of conduct for the upcoming negotiations, reads: “the receiving party will not share this material outside of negotiating teams without the consent of the other party.
“Unless explicitly indicated otherwise by the sending party, material received may nevertheless be shared to the extent necessary for each party to fulfil its institutional practice or constitutional obligations in the context of the negotiations, subject to appropriate confidentiality arrangements.”
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Amelie de Montchalin told a Chatham House event: “These fishes are fished by everybody and they will move.”
She also accused the Prime Minister of imposing “artificial deadlines” on the EU.
Brussels would not sign up to “any kind of a deal” simply to meet Mr Johnson’s timetable of securing the broad outline of a UK-EU trade agreement by September, she added.