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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)

Brexit Negotiations – Round 5

The fifth round of talks between the UK and the EU started on Monday 9th October 2017 and is scheduled to finish on 12 October 2017.

Doesn’t seem to be anything different from previous rounds, so its hardly worth quoting the Agenda for the week of meetings. For some reason there are no details specified for Wed 10 October. Here’s the Agenda anyway

Monday, 9 October 2017
Technical working groups

Tuesday, 10 October 2017
Coordinators’ Session

Thursday, 28 September 2017
Principals’ meeting

Press briefing (to be confirmed)

Note:
There are three technical working groups covering citizens’ rights, financial settlement and other
separation issues. Horizontal issues, including governance, will be addressed by the Coordinators.
Additional technical working groups may be scheduled during the week.

David Davis and Michel Barnier didn’t meet this time on the first day of the talks.

When asked why the schedule for Wednesday had been left blank, the European commission’s spokesman said “the timetable was drawn up according to the availability of the British negotiating team“. A spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the EU said: “The talks this week were a mutually agreed programme designed to give both sides the best chance to make progress. We have always been clear that we are ready to negotiate at any time.

In my opinion, with the apparent reluctance of the EU negotiating team to make “any” concessions, or to extend negotiatins to cover further topis, it wouldn’t be a surprise if ongoing negotiations were cancelled at some point in the near future.

PM statement on leaving the EU

Following the Prime Ministers speech in Florence, she made the following statement to Parliament on 9th October 2017, regarding the Brexit negotiations.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to update the House on our plans for leaving the European Union.

Today the fifth round of negotiations begins in Brussels and this government is getting on with the job of delivering the democratic will of the British people. As I set out in my speech in Florence we want to take a creative and pragmatic approach to securing a new, deep and special partnership with the European Union which spans both a new economic relationship and a new security relationship.

So let me set out what each of these relationships could look like – before turning to how we get there.

Economic partnership
Mr Speaker, I have been clear that when we leave the European Union we will no longer be members of its single market or its customs union. The British people voted for control of their borders, their laws and their money. And that is what this government is going to deliver. At the same time we want to find a creative solution to a new economic relationship that can support prosperity for all our peoples.

We do not want to settle for adopting a model enjoyed by other countries.

So we have rejected the idea of something based on European Economic Area membership. For this would mean having to adopt – automatically and in their entirety – new EU rules over which, in future, we will have little influence and no vote.

Neither are we seeking a Canadian-style free trade agreement. For compared with what exists today, this would represent such a restriction on our mutual market access that it would benefit none of our economies.

Instead I am proposing a unique and ambitious economic partnership. It will reflect our unprecedented position of starting with the same rules and regulations. We will maintain our unequivocal commitment to free trade and high standards. And we will need a framework to manage where we continue to align and where we choose to differ.

There will be areas of policy and regulation which are outside the scope of our trade and economic relations where this should be straightforward. There will be areas which do affect our economic relations where we and our European friends may have different goals; or where we share the same goals but want to achieve them through different means. And there will be areas where we want to achieve the same goals in the same ways, because it makes sense for our economies.

Because rights and obligations must be held in balance, the decisions we both take will have consequences for the UK’s access to the EU market – and EU access to our market.

But this dynamic, creative and unique economic partnership will enable the UK and the EU to work side by side in bringing shared prosperity to our peoples.

Security relationship
Let me turn to the new security relationship.

As I said when I visited our troops serving on the NATO mission in Estonia last month, the United Kingdom is unconditionally committed to maintaining Europe’s security. And we will continue to offer aid and assistance to EU member states that are the victims of armed aggression, terrorism and natural or manmade disasters.

So we are proposing a bold new strategic agreement that provides a comprehensive framework for future security, law enforcement and criminal justice co-operation: a treaty between the UK and the EU. We are also proposing a far reaching partnership on how together we protect Europe from the threats we face in the world today. So this partnership will be unprecedented in its breadth and depth, taking in cooperation on diplomacy, defence and security, and development.

Implementation
Let me turn to how we build a bridge from where we are now to the new relationship that we want to see.

When we leave the European Union on 29th March 2019 neither the UK, nor the EU and its Members States, will be in a position to implement smoothly many of the detailed arrangements that will underpin this new relationship we seek. Businesses will need time to adjust and governments will need to put new systems in place. And businesses want certainty about the position in the interim.

That is why I suggested in my speech at Lancaster House there should be a period of implementation – and why I proposed such a period in my speech in Florence last month.

During this strictly time-limited period, we will have left the EU and its institutions, but we are proposing that for this period access to one another’s markets should continue on current terms and Britain also should continue to take part in existing security measures. The framework for this period, which can be agreed under Article 50, would be the existing structure of EU rules and regulations.

Now I know some people may have some concerns about this. But there are two reasons why it makes sense.

First, we want our departure from the EU to be as smooth as possible – it wouldn’t make sense to make people and businesses plan for two sets of changes in the relationship between the UK and the EU.

Second, we should concentrate our negotiating time and capital on what really matters – the future long-term relationship we will have with the EU after this temporary period ends.

During the implementation period, people will continue to be able to come and live and work in the UK; but there will be a registration system – an essential preparation for the new immigration system required to re-take control of our borders. And our intention is that new arrivals would be subject to new rules for EU citizens on long term settlement.

We will also push forward on our future independent trade policy, talking to trading partners across the globe and preparing to introduce those deals once this period is over. How long the period is should be determined simply by how long it will take to prepare and implement the new systems we need. As of today, these considerations point to an implementation period of around two years.

And as I said in Florence – because I don’t believe that either the EU or the British people will want us to stay longer in the existing structures than necessary, we could also agree to bring forward aspects of that future framework, such as new dispute resolution mechanisms, more quickly if this can be done smoothly. At the heart of these arrangements, there should be a clear double lock: guaranteeing a period of implementation giving businesses and people the certainty they will be able to prepare for the change; and guaranteeing this implementation period will be time-limited, giving everyone the certainty this will not go on forever.

Negotiations
Mr Speaker, the purpose of the Florence speech was to move the negotiations forward and that is exactly what has happened.

As Michel Barnier said after the last round, there is a “new dynamic” in the negotiations. And I want to pay tribute to my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union for all he has done to drive through real and tangible progress on a number of vital areas.

On citizens’ rights, as I have said many times this government greatly values the contributions of all EU citizens who have made their lives in our country. We want them to stay. In Florence, I gave further commitments that the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens in the EU, will not diverge over time, committing to incorporate our agreement on citizens’ rights fully into UK law and making sure the UK courts can refer directly to it.

Since Florence there has been more progress including reaching agreement on reciprocal healthcare and pensions, and encouraging further alignment on a range of important social security rights. So I hope our negotiating teams can now reach full agreement quickly.

On Northern Ireland, we have now begun drafting joint principles on preserving the Common Travel Area and associated rights. And we have both stated explicitly we will not accept any physical infrastructure at the border. We owe it to the people of Northern Ireland, and indeed to everyone on the island of Ireland, to get this right.

Then there is the question of the EU budget.

As I have said, this can only be resolved as part of the settlement of all the issues that we are working through. Still I do not want our partners to fear that they will need to pay more or receive less over the remainder of the current budget plan as a result of our decision to leave. The UK will honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership. And as we move forwards, we will also want to continue working together in ways that promote the long-term economic development of our continent.

This includes continuing to take part in those specific policies and programmes which are greatly to our joint advantage, such as those that promote science, education and culture and those that promote our mutual security. And as I set out in my speech at Lancaster House, in doing so, we would want to make a contribution to cover our fair share of the costs involved.

Mr Speaker, I continued discussions on many of these issues when I met with European leaders in Tallinn at the end of last month. And in the bi-lateral discussions I have had with Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Szydlo, President Tusk and the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, they welcomed the tone set in Florence and the impact this was having on moving the negotiations forwards.

Legislation
Mr Speaker, preparing for life outside the EU is also about the legislative steps we take. Our EU Withdrawal Bill will shortly enter Committee Stage, carrying over EU rules and regulations into our domestic law from the moment we leave the EU.

And today we are publishing two White Papers on trade and customs. These pave the way for legislation to allow the UK to operate as an independent trading nation and to create an innovative customs system that will help us achieve the greatest possible tariff and barrier-free trade as we leave the EU. And while I believe it is profoundly in all our interests for the negotiations to succeed, it is also our responsibility as a government to prepare for every eventuality. So that is exactly what we are doing.

These White Papers also support that work, including setting out steps to minimise disruption for businesses and travellers.

Conclusion
Mr Speaker, a new, deep and special partnership between a sovereign United Kingdom and a strong and successful European Union is our ambition and our offer to our European friends.

Achieving that partnership will require leadership and flexibility, not just from us but from our friends, the 27 nations of the EU. And as we look forward to the next stage, the ball is in their court. But I am optimistic it will receive a positive response.

Because what we are seeking is not just the best possible deal for us – but I believe that will also be the best possible deal for our European friends too. So while, of course, progress will not always be smooth; by approaching these negotiations in a constructive way, in a spirit of friendship and co-operation and with our sights firmly set on the future, I believe we can prove the doomsayers wrong. And I believe we can seize the opportunities of this defining moment in the history of our nation.

Mr Speaker, a lot of the day to day coverage is about process. But this, on the other hand, is vitally important. I am determined to deliver what the British people voted for and to get it right.

That is my duty as Prime Minister. It is our duty as a Government. And it is what we will do. And I commend this Statement to the House.

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-statement-on-leaving-the-eu-9-oct-2017

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