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Press statement about UK attendance at EU meetings

A Press Statement released by the Department for Exiting the European Union on 20 August 2019 stated that UK officials will stop attending most EU meetings from 1 September 2019.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-officials-will-stop-attending-most-eu-meetings-from-1-september

UK officials will stop attending most EU meetings from 1 September so that they can focus on our future relationship with the EU and other partners around the world.

The Government has decided this week that from 1 September, UK officials and Ministers will now only attend EU meetings where the UK has a significant national interest in the outcome of discussions, such as on security.

This decision reflects the fact that the UK’s exit from the EU on 31 October is now very close and many of the discussions in EU meetings will be about the future of the Union after the UK has left.

As the PM has promised in the House of Commons in July, as a departing Member State it makes sense to “unshackle” officials from these EU meetings to enable them to better focus their talents on our immediate national priorities. This includes, as the top priority, work on preparations for Brexit on 31 October and on our future relationship with the EU, but also on pioneering new trade deals and promoting a truly Global Britain.

This decision is not intended in any way to frustrate the functioning of the EU. The UK’s vote will be delegated in a way that does not obstruct the ongoing business of the remaining 27 EU members.

Where matters of ongoing national interest are being discussed, the UK will continue to be present until 31 October.

Further details:

  • As a Member State the UK is allowed to send a representative to a variety of EU meetings. These representatives can be Government Ministers or officials.
  • The UK has decided that we do not need representation at all of these meetings, especially where the subject is the future of the EU after we have left.
  • The UK will continue to attend if and when it is in our interests, with particular regard to meetings on UK exit, sovereignty, international relations, security, or finance and the Prime Minister will attend European Council.
  • Decisions will be made on a case by case basis depending on the agendas of the meetings. This provides the right amount of flexibility to ensure UK interests remain protected.

Secretary of State Steve Barclay said:

An incredible amount of time and effort goes into EU meetings with attendance just the tip of the iceberg. Our diligent, world-class officials also spend many hours preparing for them whether in reading the necessary papers or working on briefings.

From now on we will only go to the meetings that really matter, reducing attendance by over half and saving hundreds of hours. This will free up time for Ministers and their officials to get on with preparing for our departure on October 31 and seizing the opportunities that lie ahead.

EU Council nominates new leaders

EU leaders discussed and agreed on nominations for the EU’s top jobs at the Special European Council on 30 June, 1 and 2 July 2019 in Brussels.

The European Council nominated Charles Michel as President of the European Council. The President of the European Council is elected for the period from 1 December 2019 until 31 May 2022. The mandate of two and a half years of the President of the European Council is renewable once. The European Council also welcomed the decision of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States whose currency is the euro to appoint Charles Michel as President of the Euro Summit, for the same term of office.

The European Council adopted the decision proposing Ursula von der Leyen to the European Parliament as candidate for President of the European Commission. The proposed candidate will need to be elected by the European Parliament by a majority of its component members.

The European Council also considered Josep Borrell Fontelles to be the appropriate candidate for High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The formal appointment of the High Representative by the European Council requires the agreement of the President-elect of the Commission.

The President of the Commission, the High Representative and the other members of the Commission will be subject as a body to a vote of consent by the European Parliament, before the formal appointment by the European Council. Their term of office will last 5 years from the end of the current Commission until 31 October 2024.

The European Council also considered Christine Lagarde to be the appropriate candidate for President of the European Central Bank. The European Council will take a formal decision on the appointment on the basis of a Council recommendation, after having consulted the European Parliament and the ECB’s Governing Council. The mandate for the President of the European Central Bank is for 8 years non-renewable.

PM statement on EU Council Meeting

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Prime Minister Theresa May’s statement to the House of Commons on the EU Council meeting, held on 20-21 June 2019

Mr Speaker, before I turn to the European Council, I am sure the whole House will join me in sending our very best wishes to the former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. All our thoughts are with him and his family at this time – and we wish him a full and speedy recovery.

Mr Speaker, last week’s European Council focused on climate change, disinformation and hybrid threats, external relations and what are known as the EU’s “Top Jobs”. The UK has always been clear that we will participate fully and constructively in all EU discussions for as long as we are a Member State – and that we will seek to continue our co-operation on issues of mutual interest through our future relationship after we have left. And that was the spirit in which I approached this Council.

Mr Speaker, earlier this month the UK became the first major economy in the world to commit to ending its contribution to global warming by 2050. And I am pleased that the regulations to amend the 2008 Climate Change Act – which are being debated in this Chamber later today – have received widespread support from across this House. But ultimately we will only protect our planet if we are able to forge the widest possible global agreements. That means other countries need to follow our lead and increase their ambitions as well.

At this Council the UK helped to lead the way in advocating for our European partners to follow suit in committing to a net zero target by 2050. While a full EU-wide consensus was not reached, “a large majority” of Member States did agree that “climate neutrality must be achieved by 2050”. And I hope we can build on this in the months ahead.

Remarks by Donald Tusk after the EU Council meeting on 21 June 2019

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Remarks by President Donald Tusk after the EU Council meeting on 21 June 2019

Extract from remarks by President Donald Tusk after the Euro summit meeting on 21 June 2019

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At the end of our meeting, the EU27 briefly came back to the issue of Brexit. We have agreed on the following, united approach of the EU27:

– we look forward to working together with the next UK Prime Minister;

– we want to avoid a disorderly Brexit and establish a future relationship that is as close as possible with the UK;

– we are open for talks when it comes to the Declaration on the future UK-EU relations if the position of the United Kingdom were to evolve, but the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for renegotiation; and

– we have been informed on the state of play of planning for a no-deal scenario.

EU Commission to make €50million available to Irish beef farmers

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On the 20 June 2019, the EU Commission, in a press release, stated that €50 million would be made available to Irish beef farmers and this can be matched by national funds to reach a maximum of €100 million.

(Is this State Aid to subsidise Irish Beef Farmers ?)

The establishment of the fund reflects the Commission recognition of the particular challenges facing the Irish beef and veal sector due to market uncertainty and an unprecedented and sustained period of low prices. This exceptional measure, provided under the Common Market Organisation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), will offer support to the Irish farmers affected.

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Ireland’s beef and veal sector is both large and hugely dependent on exports. Five of every six tonnes of beef produced is exported and almost 50% of these exports are to the United Kingdom. Uncertainty around the withdrawal of the United Kingdom is putting downward pressure on prices, deteriorating further the situation of beef producers in Ireland

Full Press Release is available at

Member States agree to Commission proposal to support Irish beef producers impacted by market uncertainty

ip-19-3324_en_200619 (pdf)

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