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May meets Junker in Brussels

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, went to Brussels for a working dinner with EU President Junker on 16 October 2017.

After the meeting a brief joint statement was issued.

“The Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission had a broad, constructive exchange on current European and global challenges.

They discussed their common interest in preserving the Iran nuclear deal and their work on strengthening the security of citizens in Europe, notably on the fight against terrorism.

They also prepared for the European Council that will take place later this week.

As regards the Article 50 negotiations, both sides agreed that these issues are being discussed in the framework agreed between the EU27 and the United Kingdom, as set out in Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.

The Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission reviewed the progress made in the Article 50 negotiations so far and agreed that these efforts should accelerate over the months to come.

The working dinner took place in a constructive and friendly atmosphere.”

So nothing has changed since last week then.

David Davis – Statement at end of Round 5 negotiations

David Davis made the following statement during the press conference following the end of the fifth round of Brexit negotiations.

Thank you Michel.

At the last round of talks we spoke of a new dynamic and Michel has referred to that. Our negotiating teams have continued to work constructively together in a professional and determined manner this week. And they have developed, as Michel says, an increased sense of shared political objectives.

Now while there is still work to be done, much work to be done, we have come a long way. And it is important to recognise the significant progress we have made since June. Let me, as Michael did, take the issues in turn.

Citizens rights

On citizens rights, we have made further progress to give British citizens in the EU and EU27 citizens in the UK the greatest possible legal certainty about the future. Our legal orders will, in the future, be distinct and different. So this week we explored ways of making sure the rights we agree now will be enforced in a fair and equivalent way. And in a way that gives citizens confidence that their rights will be upheld.

We have also explored ways in which we could fulfil the Prime Minister’s commitment to implement the Withdrawal Treaty fully into UK law which would give confidence to EU citizens living in the UK that they would be able to enforce their rights, as are set out in the Agreement, in UK courts. And we have discussed ways of ensuring the consistent interpretation of the concepts of EU law that will underpin much of our Agreement.

While we have not yet arrived at a single model that achieves this we have explored creative solutions and are confident that we’ll reach an agreement soon. We have also focussed this week on the other remaining issues on which we have not yet arrived at a solution and Michel referred to a few of them. These are:

  • the right to bring in future family members
  • to export a range of benefits
  • to continue to enjoy the recognition of professional qualifications
  • to vote in local elections
  • to move within the 27 as a UK citizen
  • to leave for a prolonged period and yet continue to enjoy a right to remain or permanent right of residence on return

These issues are not easy, but we have approached them with a shared spirit of trying to find solutions and both teams will now reflect further on that. We are taking a pragmatic approach. As demonstrated by our offer of a guaranteed right of return for settled citizens in the UK in return for onward movement rights for UK citizens currently living in the EU. We look forward to hearing the European Union’s response to this.

I want to highlight one particularly productive area of our talks this week.

And I recognise that there has been some anxiety about EU citizens rights to settled status in the United Kingdom. But today I can confirm that we want to reassure those European citizens living in the UK that their rights and status will be enshrined in UK law by the Withdrawal Agreement. And yes, there will be a registration process but the administration process will be completely new. It will be streamlined, and it will be low cost.

And in addition to that any EU citizen in the UK already in possession of a permanent residence card will be able to exchange it simply for settled status in a simple way. They will not have to go through the full application process again. And to reassure those affected I can confirm that the tests associated with this process will be agreed and set out in our Withdrawal Agreement. We will also make sure that citizens rights of review of – and redress for – any errors will be quick, accessible and fair.

I will set out our position on ensuring citizens’ future rights in a statement for the Commission, a written statement, which they can share with the European Union 27.

And as a result of our productive discussions, the Commission is also able to offer similar guarantees in return for those British citizens in the European Union.

This is a very welcome clarification and has built real confidence that the rights of EU citizens in the UK – and British citizens in the European Union – will continue to be accessible in the most straightforward way possible. In summary, I think that this week of talks has brought us even closer to a deal that gives citizens rights to the legal certainty that they deserve.

Northern Ireland

I welcome the advances too that we have made on the discussions on Northern Ireland and Ireland.

This week we developed the joint principles on the continuation of the Common Travel Area. Our teams have also mapped out areas of cooperation that operate on a North South basis.

As Michel said, there is more work to do here in order to build a fuller picture of how we overcome the challenges to North-South cooperation once the UK has left the European Union. But I’m pleased to say we have made further progress here.

We have also agreed, based on critical guiding principles which both sides recognise, we will start working on a common understanding on possible commitments and undertakings necessary to effectively protect the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement in all its dimensions.

I said last time that we were determined to tackle the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland by focusing creatively on specific solutions and we have begun to do so. As the Prime Minister said in her statement to Parliament this week, “We owe it to the people of Northern Ireland—and indeed to everyone on the island of Ireland—to get this right.”

Financial settlement

On the financial settlement, we have continued in the spirit fostered by the Prime Minister’s significant statements in her Florence speech.

In line with the process agreed at our last round of talks, we have undertaken a rigorous examination of the technical detail where we need to reach a shared view.

This is not a process of agreeing specific commitments – we have been clear this can only come later.

But it is an important step, so that when the time comes we will be able to reach a political agreement quickly and simply.

Separation issues

On separation issues we have continued to work through the detail on a range of issues.

And while we have made good progress, particularly on those areas relating purely to our withdrawal, we believe these issues are dependent on discussions on our future relationship. And as I’ve said before, we are ready and well-prepared to start those discussions.

Conclusion

So, our aim is to provide as much certainty as possible to business, citizens and the European Union. And on this we are making real and tangible progress. But I make no secret of the fact that to provide certainty we must talk about the future.

The Prime Minister’s speech set out the scale of our ambition for our deep and special partnership with the European Union. And also laid out the case for a simple, clear and time-limited period of implementation on current terms.

As I said when I stood here last time, I hope the leaders of the 27 will provide Michel with the means to explore ways forward with us on that. And to build on the spirit of cooperation we now have.

I have always been clear that we would enter these negotiations in a constructive and responsible way.

The work of our teams and the substantial progress that we have made over recent months proves we are doing just that. As we look to the October European Council next week, I hope the Member States will recognise the progress we have made, and take a step forward in the spirit of the Prime Minister’s Florence speech. Doing so will allow us to best achieve our joint objectives by turning the ideas we have explored into concrete shared proposals. That’s the way that we’ll move towards a deal that works for both the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Michel Barnier – Statement at end of Round 5 negotiations

In his statement at the press conference following the end of the 5th round of Brexit negotiations Michel Barnier declared that the negotiations had reached a “very disturbing” deadlock.

Talks have ground to a halt over the size of the Divorce Bill demanded by the EU for the UK to pay before it leaves.

He also confirmed that sufficient progress had not been made in order for discussions to proceed with talks on a future trade agreement.

The EU still refuses to make any concessions on questions related to the Divorce Bill, Citizens Rights or Ireland and expects the UK to cede to all their demands.

Here’s the full statement by Barnier:

Good afternoon to all of you.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear David, Theresa May’s Florence speech has given these negotiations much needed momentum. We worked constructively this week. We clarified certain points. But without making any great steps forward.

We still have a common goal: the desire to reach an agreement on the UK’s withdrawal and to outline our future relationship, when the time comes. From the EU side, this is what President Donald Tusk very clearly said three days ago.

Our negotiations are framed within in this perspective.

We share the same objectives as the UK:

  • To protect the rights of all citizens concerned regarding the consequences of withdrawal.
  • To preserve the peace process in Northern Ireland and cooperation on the island of Ireland.
  • To honour at 28 the commitments taken at 28

For us, from the EU side, achieving and realising these three big bjectives is the condition for engaging in a discussion, as soon as possible, on a new ambitious, long-lasting partnership.

Where are we at the end of this fifth round?

More precisely, on each of the main subjects linked to the UK’s withdrawal:

On citizens’ rights:

We have two common objectives:

  1. That the Withdrawal Agreement has direct effect, which is essential to guarantee the rights of all citizens in the long-term.
  2. That the interpretation of these rights is fully consistent in the European Union and in the United Kingdom.

On these points, we will continue to work on the specific instruments and mechanisms which will allow us to translate this into reality. This means for us the role of the European Court of Justice.

Furthermore, divergences still exist on the possibility of family reunification and on the exportation of social benefits after Brexit, both of which we want.

For us, for example, it is important that any European citizen living in the UK can – in 10 or 15 years’ time – bring his/her parents to the UK, as would be the case for British citizens living in the EU.

In the same vain, an EU citizen who has worked for 20 years in the UK should be able to move to an EU Member State and still benefit from his/her disability allowance, under the same conditions as British citizens in the EU.

Finally, an important point for the Member States of the Union: the UK has informed us of its intention to put in place a simplified procedure which allows citizens to assert their rights. We will study attentively the practical details of this procedure, which should really be simple for citizens.

On Ireland

ladies and gentlemen:

This week we advanced on the joint principles on the continuation of the Common Travel Area and I welcome this.

We continued our intensive work on mapping out areas of cooperation that operate on a North South basis on the island of Ireland.

There is more work to do in order to build a full picture of the challenges to North-South cooperation resulting from the UK, and therefore Northern Ireland, leaving the EU legal framework.

This is necessary in order to identify the solutions.

This week, we agreed that the six principles proposed by the EU in September would guide our work on protecting the Good Friday Agreement in all its dimensions.

Financial Settlement:

Theresa May confirmed in her Florence speech that the UK will honour commitments it has made during the period of its membership. This is an important commitment. The UK told us again this week that it still could not clarify these commitments. Therefore, there was no negotiation on this, but we did have technical discussions which were useful, albeit technical.

We are, therefore, at a deadlock on this question. This is extremely worrying for European taxpayers and those who benefit from EU policies.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is my summary of our work on the three main topics this week. On this basis, and as things stand at present, I am not able to recommend to the European Council next week to open discussions on the future relationship.

I will say before you again that trust is needed between us if this future relationship is to be solid, ambitious and long-lasting. This trust will come with clarity and the respect of all commitments made together.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Before concluding, I would like to make just one observation.

At one of our recent press conferences, one of you asked me when the European Union would be “ready to make concessions.”

We will not ask the UK to “make concessions”.

The agreement that we are working towards will not be built on “concessions.”

This is not about making “concessions” on the rights of citizens.

This is not about making “concessions” on the peace process in Northern Ireland.

This is not about making “concessions” on the thousands of investment projects and the men and women involved in them in Europe.

In these complex and difficult negotiations, we have shared objectives, we have shared obligations, we have shared duties, and we will only succeed with shared solutions. That is our responsibility.

Since Florence, there is a new dynamic. I remain convinced that with political will, decisive progress is within our reach in the coming weeks.

My responsibility as the Commission’s negotiator, on behalf of the European Union, and with the trust of President Juncker, is to find the way to make progress, while fully respecting the conditions of the European Council, as agreed unanimously on 29 April – which is my mandate – and in constant dialogue with the European Parliament who has twice voiced its opinion, by a very large majority.

That is my mind-set a couple of days ahead of the next European Council

Thank you.

References

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-17-3921_en.htm

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-17-3921_en.pdf (pdf)

Joint letter from the EU and the UK to the WTO

by Politicker 0 Comments

On the 11 October, the EU and UK published a joint letter sent from the EU and the UK Permanent Representatives to the WTO.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-and-eu-set-out-proposals-to-wto-members-for-trade-post-brexit

In preparation for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, the UK government and the European Commission have set out a number of proposals for future global trading arrangements.

The proposals include apportioning the EU’s existing commitments on the amount of imported goods on which a lower duty is charged. These tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) apply to a range of everyday items such as dairy products and meat.

International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox said

“As an international economic department, we’ve been working closely with the European Commission to prepare for our withdrawal from the EU in order to minimise any disruption to global trade.”

“Our agreed collaborative approach shows real progress on how UK government intends to take forward our future trading arrangements with the world. This is the start of our open and constructive engagement with the WTO membership and sets out our intentions regarding EU quotas to forge ahead and establish the UK as an independent WTO member.”

To ensure a smooth transition which minimises disruption to our trading relationships with other WTO members the UK intends to replicate as far as possible its obligations under the current commitments of the EU.

This agreed approach between the UK and EU will now form the first part of our cooperative, inclusive and open engagement we will have with WTO members, in accordance with WTO rules and procedures.

The letter is available from

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/651033/Letter_from_EU_and_UK_Permanent_Representatives.pdf (pdf)

and was signed by

On behalf of the UK by
H.E. Julian Braithwaite, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the International Organizations in Geneva

On behalf of the EU by
H.E. Marc Vanheukelen, Permanent Representative of the European Union to the WTO

However, it may not be as straightforward as it seems according to a report from the BBC,

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41581705

and another report by Politico EU

http://www.politico.eu/article/us-rounds-on-britain-over-food-quotas-as-post-brexit-trade-woes-deepen/

A number of countries Argentina, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand, Uruguay and the USA have objected to the proposals because dividing quotas for goods imported at reduced tariffs for crucial agricultural goods such as meat, sugar and grains will leave them worse off. The letter was sent to Julian Braithwaite and Marc Vanheukelen on September 27. I noticed a copy of this letter at

http://im.ft-static.com/content/images/ec0a64b2-a95f-11e7-ab55-27219df83c97.pdf

References

I found a useful article about Tariff-rate Quotas on the Trade Beta Blog at

UK, EU, WTO, Brexit primer — 2. Tariff quotas

President Tusk on Brexit

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, made the following comments on Brexit during a speech at the Plenary Session of the European Committee of the Regions held on 10 October – State of Union- the view of the regions:

We hear from London that the UK Government is preparing for a “no-deal” scenario.

I would like to say very clearly that the EU is not working on such a scenario.

We are negotiating in good faith and we still hope that the so-called “sufficient progress” will be possible by December.

However, if it turns out that the talks continue at a slow pace, and that sufficient progress hasn’t been reached, then together with our UK friends, we will have to think about where we are heading.

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