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Statement by Michel Barnier 27 February 2018

Michel Barnier made a statement regarding Brexit, in French, at a Press Conference following an EU General Affairs Council meeting on 27 February 2018.


In the lack of the provision of this statement in any other language, my interpretation of the speech is as follows:

In his statement, Barnier mentions that he is concerned that “the clock is ticking” and that there is little time left for negotiations with the UK between now and Autumn 2018, when the EU requires talks to have completed.

He announced that their draft text of a treaty for the Withdrawal Agreement will be released on 28 February 2018 ready for discussion with the remaining 27 member states and EU Parliament before being presented to the UK. The document consists of 120 pages containing 168 specific articles and will represent the Legal form of the commitments agreed to with the UK in December 2017.

The document in addition to the topics of Citizens Rights, Financial demands and Ireland will also cover the EU positions on other issues regarding the withdrawal.

Details for the Transition (Implementation) period are included in the Draft document and Barnier mentioned that there are still important differences of opinion with the UK regarding what is meant by the Transition (Implementation) period:

  • The EU proposes that it end on 31 December 2020 while the UK wants a longer period – which is not possible.
  • The EU wants to continue freedom of movement of Citizens during the Transition (Implementation) period whereas the UK wants the cut-off date to be the date of withdrawal
  • There remain differences regarding
    • The opt-in option for Justice and Home affairs
    • The ability for the UK to conclude International Trade agreements
    • The participation of the UK in committees of experts
    • Consultation mechanisms during the Transition (Implementation) period regarding Fisheries and Foreign and Defence policy.

Currently, given these differences between the EU and the UK, the Transition (Implementation) period has yet to be agreed. Barnier states his readiness to discuss and negotiate these details with David Davis.

His final comments related to the future relationship between the EU and the UK and he mentioned that the EU had held numerous internal seminars with the remaining 27 member states and the EU Parliament covering topics such as Aviation, Fisheries, Security, Defence and Foreign Policy.

These seminars were used to emphasise the principles of the European Identity, the integrity of the internal market and the four freedoms which are non-negotiable as far as the EU 27 are concerned and Barnier will negotiate with the UK on that basis.

Britain’s Trading Future – Liam Fox 27 Feb 2018

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Continuing the trend for Cabinet Ministers making speeches about Brexit, Dr Liam Fox made a speech in London which outlines the Government’s vision for the UK’s commercial future, and our leadership role in the global economy.

Thank you Constantin for the introduction. And thank you to Bloomberg for hosting us in these wonderful surroundings. It is a pleasure to be here today to talk about Britain’s trading future.

The historic decision by the British people to leave the European Union has presented this country with a number of choices about its future global direction. It has generated a great deal of soul-searching and caused a number of important questions to be aired. Some of these relate specifically to the referendum decision itself, others are questions which needed to be addressed anyway but have been brought into sharper focus by that decision.

Where do we see our place in the world?

What sort of economy and what sort of country do we want to be?

What should our influence be in global affairs and global trade?

How will we generate the income we will need to ensure a prosperous and secure future for the generations that come after us?

Since the referendum vote and the creation of the Department for International Trade, my ministerial team and I have undertaken over 150 overseas visits, to all parts of the globe, to old friends and new allies alike and to markets large and small. From across the world, the keenness to deepen trade and investment ties with this country and once again hear us champion the case for free trade, is palpable.

And why should that surprise us?

The United Kingdom is one of the world’s largest and most successful economies. We are at record levels of employment. Our success is underpinned by a legal system whose reputation is second to none. We have a skilled workforce and a low tax and a well-regulated economy. We are home to some of the world’s finest universities, our research and development capabilities are cutting-edge and our financial institutions world-leading. We are in the right time zone to trade with Asia in the morning and the United States in the afternoon, and, of course, we speak English, the language of global business.

Comments by Donald Tusk 23 February 2018

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I noted the following comments by Donald Tusk following the informal meeting of the 27 heads of state or government on 23 February 2018. This meeting was being held to discuss the political priorities of the EU in the post-2020 multiannual budget.

On Brexit Negotiations:

Today I have also informed the leaders that I will present the draft guidelines on the future EU-UK relationship at the March summit. Our intention is to adopt these guidelines, whether the UK is ready with its vision of our future relations, or not. Naturally it would be much better if it were. But we cannot stand by and wait. I hope to have some more clarity about the UK’s plans next week, when I meet Prime Minister May in London.


I’m glad that the UK government seems to be moving towards a more detailed position. However, if the media reports are correct, I am afraid that the UK’s position today is based on pure illusion. It looks like the “cake philosophy” is still alive. From the very start there has been a key principle of the EU27 that there can be no “cherry picking” and no single market “à la carte”. This is and will continue to be a key principle without any doubt. Next week I will meet PM May in London to discuss the UK’s position and in March the EU27 will adopt new guidelines as regard the future relationship. I’m absolutely sure that we’ll be extremely realistic, as 27, in our assessment of possible new proposals.

Draft Text For Discussion: Implementation Period

A document Draft Text For Discussion: Implementation Period has been published (21 February 2018) that sets out the UK’s approach to the legal text of the implementation period to be provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement.

In order to aid swift and effective negotiation it sets out a number of proposed amendments to the European Commission’s position paper of 7 February 2018, “Transitional arrangements in the withdrawal agreement”.

It is intended to support further discussions between the parties on detailed arrangements for the implementation period (‘the Period’), with the aim of reaching agreement at March European Council