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Brexit – Opening Remarks by David Davis

The opening remarks by David Davis at the start of EU exit negotiations in Brussels.

I’m here in Brussels today, to begin the next phase of our work to build a new, deep and special partnership with the European Union.

But our thoughts this morning are rightly with the victims and families of the awful attack in London early this morning and with those who have lost loved ones in Portugal too in that terrible tragedy there.

It is at testing times like these that we are reminded of the values and the resolve we share with our closest allies in Europe.

For there is more that unites us than divides us.

So while there will undoubtedly be challenging times ahead of us in the negotiations we will do all that we can to ensure we deliver a deal that works in the best interests of all of our citizens.

To that end we are starting this negotiation in a positive and constructive tone, determined to build a strong and special partnership between ourselves, our European allies and friends.

EU – Brexit Negotiation Documents

The EU will publish all documents, related to negotiations with the UK, which are shared with EU member states.

The EU Commission tweeted on 22 May 2017:

We want full transparency. #Article50 negotiating documents will be released to the public & will be published here.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/article-50-negotiations-united-kingdom/european-commissions-approach-transparency-article-50-negotiations-united-kingdom_en

https://twitter.com/EU_Commission

The Commission, as European Union negotiator, will ensure a maximum level of transparency during the whole negotiating process.

Commission negotiating documents which are shared with EU Member States, the European Council, the European Parliament, the Council, national parliaments, and the United Kingdom will be released to the public.

Documents wil be provided at

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/publications/article-50-negotiations-united-kingdom_en

Some of the initial documents available are:

Recommendation for a Council Decision authorising the Commission to open negotiations with the UK setting out arrangements for its withdrawal from the EU

https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/recommendation-uk-eu-negotiations_3-may-2017_en.pdf

Annex to the Commission recommendation on negotiations with the UK

https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/annex-recommendation-uk-eu-negotiations_3-may-2017_en.pdf

European Council (Art. 50) guidelines for Brexit negotiations

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/press-releases-pdf/2017/4/47244658130_en.pdf

Directives for the negotiation of an agreement with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal from the European Union

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/gac/2017/05/directives-for-the-negotiation-xt21016-ad01re02_en17_pdf/

European Commission receives mandate to begin negotiations with the UK

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-1405_en.htm

Statement by Michel Barnier at the press conference following the General Affairs Council (Art. 50)

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-17-1422_en.htm

EU Article 50 Taskforce

The EU Taskforce on Article 50 negotiations with the UK is in charge of preparing and conducting the negotiations with the UK, taking into account the framework of its future relationship with the European Union.

It is responsible for coordinating the European Commission’s work on all strategic, operational, legal and financial issues related to negotiations with the United Kingdom

Details at

https://ec.europa.eu/info/departments/taskforce-article-50-negotiations-united-kingdom_en

The Chief Negotiator is Michel Barnier and the deputy Chief Negotiator is Sabine Weyand.

Here is an organisation chart of the team dated April 2017

The Great Repeal Bill

The European Communities Act 1972 (ECA) accepted the supremacy of EU law in the UK. The principle of supremacy says that EU law prevails if it conflicts with national law.

The Great Repeal Bill is legislation which will be introduced in the UK to end the supremacy of EU law in the UK.

On the day that the UK officially leaves the EU the European Communities Act 1972 will be repealed and all EU laws currently in force will be converted into UK law.

A White Paper: Legislating for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union was presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, on 30 March 2017.

The paper outlines the approach the UK Government will take in order to replace EU laws by equivalent UK laws.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/604514/Great_repeal_bill_white_paper_print.pdf

In his statement to Parliament David Davis said

We have been clear that we want a smooth and orderly exit – and the Great Repeal Bill is integral to that approach. It will provide clarity and certainty for businesses, workers and consumers across the United Kingdom on the day we leave the EU.

The complete statement is available at

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/david-davis-commons-statement-on-the-great-repeal-bill-white-paper

Other References

European Communities Act 1972

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1972/68/contents

European Union Act 2011

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/12/contents

How the EU works: EU law and the UK

https://fullfact.org/europe/eu-law-and-uk/

EU Law Terminology:

Direct Effect

https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/observatories/eurwork/industrial-relations-dictionary/direct-effect

Regulations
https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/observatories/eurwork/industrial-relations-dictionary/regulations

Directives
https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/observatories/eurwork/industrial-relations-dictionary/directives

Treaty Provisions
https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/observatories/eurwork/industrial-relations-dictionary/treaty-provisions

UK invokes Article 50

The UK

On the 29 March 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May wrote to European Council President Donald Tusk to notify him of the UK’s intention to leave the EU. The letter was delivered by Sir Tim Barrow, the UK’s ambassador to the EU.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/prime-ministers-letter-to-donald-tusk-triggering-article-50

….
Today, therefore, I am writing to give effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom. I hereby notify the European Council in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union. In addition, in accordance with the same Article 50(2) as applied by Article 106a of the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, I hereby notify the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Atomic Energy Community.

The letter is 6 pages long and outlines the UK’s approach to negotiations suggesting a number of principles that could be adopted in an attempt to ensure that the negotiations proceed as smoothly as possible:

  1. We should engage with one another constructively and respectfully, in a spirit of sincere cooperation
  2. We should always put our citizens first
  3. We should work towards securing a comprehensive agreement
  4. We should work together to minimise disruption and give as much certainty as possible
  5. We must pay attention to the UK’s unique relationship with the Republic of Ireland and the importance of the peace process in Northern Ireland
  6. We should begin technical talks on detailed policy areas as soon as possible, but we should prioritise the biggest challenges
  7. We should continue to work together to advance and protect our shared European values

The letter also mentions a White Paper will be released tomorrow (30 March 2017) which will provide details of legislation to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 which gives effect to EU law in the UK. (This legislation is also known as the Great Repeal Bill.)

Theresa May gave a statement on the letter in Parliament details of which can be found at

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/prime-ministers-commons-statement-on-triggering-article-50

The EU

Donald Tusk responded to the notification letter and mentioned

So, here it is, six pages: the notification from Prime Minister Theresa May, triggering Article 50 and formally starting the
negotiations of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. There is no reason to pretend that this is a happy
day, neither in Brussels, nor in London. After all, most Europeans, including almost half the British voters wish that we would stay together, not drift apart. As for me I will not pretend that I am happy today.

….

On Friday I will share a proposal of the negotiating guidelines with the Member States, to be adopted by the European Council on 29 April.

Full details are available at

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/03/29-tusk-remarks-uk-notification/

A Statement by the European Council (Art. 50) on the UK notification was also issued.

For the European Union, the first step will now be the adoption of guidelines for the negotiations by the European Council. These
guidelines will set out the overall positions and principles in light of which the Union, represented by the European Commission,
will negotiate with the United Kingdom.

In these negotiations the Union will act as one and preserve its interests. Our first priority will be to minimise the uncertainty
caused by the decision of the United Kingdom for our citizens, businesses and Member States. Therefore, we will start by
focusing on all key arrangements for an orderly withdrawal.

We will approach these talks constructively and strive to find an agreement. In the future, we hope to have the United Kingdom as
a close partner.

President Tusk has convened the European Council on 29 April 2017.

Full details are available at

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/03/29-euco-50-statement-uk-notification/

What happens next ?

The withdrawal agreement must be negotiated in accordance with Article 218 (3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Step 1
An extraordinary European Council will be convened by the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk. (This will happen on 29 April).
The European Council will adopt by consensus a set of guidelines on the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. These guidelines will define the overall principles that the EU will pursue during the negotiations based on the common interest of the European Union and of its Member States.

Step 2
After the adoption of the guidelines, the Commission will very quickly present to the Council a recommendation to open the negotiations. This will be agreed by the College of Commissioners, 4 days after the meeting of the European Council.

Step 3
The Council will then need to authorise the start of the negotiations by adopting a set of negotiating directives. They must be adopted by strong qualified majority (72% of the 27 Member States, i.e. 20 Member States representing 65% of the population of the EU27).
Once these directives are adopted, the Union negotiator, as designated by the Council, is mandated to begin negotiations with the withdrawing Member State.

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