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EU Council (Art 50) conclusions, 13 December 2018

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The European Council (Art. 50) on 13 December 2018 adopted conclusions on Brexit.

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2018/12/13/european-council-art-50-conclusions-13-december-2018/

1. The European Council reconfirms its conclusions of 25 November 2018, in which it endorsed the Withdrawal Agreement and approved the Political Declaration. The Union stands by this agreement and intends to proceed with its ratification. It is not open for renegotiation.

2. The European Council reiterates that it wishes to establish as close as possible a partnership with the United Kingdom in the future. It stands ready to embark on preparations immediately after signature of the Withdrawal Agreement to ensure that negotiations can start as soon as possible after the UK’s withdrawal.

3. The European Council underlines that the backstop is intended as an insurance policy to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland and ensure the integrity of the Single Market. It is the Union’s firm determination to work speedily on a subsequent agreement that establishes by 31 December 2020 alternative arrangements, so that the backstop will not need to be triggered.

4. The European Council also underlines that, if the backstop were nevertheless to be triggered, it would apply temporarily, unless and until it is superseded by a subsequent agreement that ensures that a hard border is avoided. In such a case, the Union would use its best endeavours to negotiate and conclude expeditiously a subsequent agreement that would replace the backstop, and would expect the same of the United Kingdom, so that the backstop would only be in place for as long as strictly necessary.

5. The European Council calls for work on preparedness at all levels for the consequences of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal to be intensified, taking into account all possible outcomes.

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/37508/13-euco-art-50-conclusions-en.pdf

EU Response to Cabinet Meeting – 14 November 2018

Following the Cabinet meeting to discuss the draft Withdrawal Agreement the European Commission released the following statement which recommends to the European Council (Article 50) to find that decisive progress has been made in Brexit negotiations.

Brussels, 14 November 2018

The negotiators of the European Commission and the United Kingdom have today reached a deal on the terms of the Article 50 Withdrawal Agreement.

All aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement have now been finalised and agreed at negotiator level. This agreement marks a decisive moment in the negotiations. The European Commission therefore recommended to the European Council (Article 50) to find that decisive progress has been made in the negotiations on the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, allowing the negotiations on the withdrawal agreement to be concluded and the next step of the process to be initiated. The negotiators have also agreed on an outline of the political declaration on the future EU-UK relationship.

The Withdrawal Agreement covers all elements of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU: citizens’ rights, the financial settlement, a transition period, governance, Protocols on Ireland, Gibraltar and Cyprus, as well as a range of other separation issues.

The EU and the UK negotiators have agreed on how to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Both will use their best endeavours to have a future agreement concluded before the end of the transition period by 1 July 2020. Should this not be the case, the EU and the UK could jointly extend the transition period. Alternatively, as of January 2021, the backstop solution for Ireland and Northern Ireland would apply, subject to a joint review mechanism.

That backstop solution means that a single EU-UK customs territory will be established, which will apply from the end of the transition period until such a time as a subsequent agreement becomes applicable. Northern Ireland will therefore remain part of the same customs territory as the rest of the UK. The single customs territory covers all goods with the exception of fishery and aquaculture products.

The creation of the single customs territory includes the corresponding level playing field commitments and appropriate enforcement mechanisms to ensure fair competition between the EU27 and the UK.

The outline of the political declaration published today records the progress in reaching an overall understanding on the framework for the future EU-UK relationship. The EU and UK negotiators will continue their work based on the outline.

Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. The present Withdrawal Agreement – including the transition period – must take into account the framework of the future relationship. The political declaration must therefore be further developed and agreed in its final form.

In parallel, the European Commission will continue its preparedness and contingency work for all eventualities.

Next steps

The EU and UK negotiators will continue their work on the political declaration on the framework for the future relationship based on the outline published today. It is up to the President of the European Council to decide whether and when to convene a meeting of the 27 Heads of State or Government. It will be up to the European Council (Article 50) to endorse the Withdrawal Agreement and the joint political declaration on the framework of the future relationship.

Once the Withdrawal Agreement is endorsed by the European Council (Article 50), and before it can enter into force, it needs to be ratified by the EU and the UK. For the EU, the Council of the European Union must authorise the signature of the Withdrawal Agreement, before sending it to the European Parliament for its consent. The United Kingdom must ratify the agreement according to its own constitutional arrangements.

Background

Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union on 29 March 2017 (read more here). Her letter to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, formally began the process of UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Negotiations on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal formally began on 19 June 2017, following the UK’s general election. On 8 December 2017, the EU and the UK published a Joint Report, setting out the areas of agreement between both sides on withdrawal issues. This was accompanied by a Communication by the European Commission. In March 2018, the European Commission and the United Kingdom published a draft Withdrawal Agreement. This document highlighted areas of agreement and disagreement using a green, yellow and white colour-coding. The future relationship between the EU and the UK will be outlined in a political declaration and will only be negotiated once the UK becomes a third country, i.e. outside of the EU, after 29 March 2019.

Further Information

Questions & Answers: Brexit Negotiations: What is in the Withdrawal Agreement

Questions & Answers: Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland

The European Council May 2016 to June 2018

Striving for unity: The European Council, May 2016 to June 2018, report by President Donald Tusk. This report details the work of the European Council, where the leaders of the European Union meet, from May 2016 to June 2018.

Striving for unity: The European Council, May 2016 to June 2018, report by President Donald Tusk

The report shows how the Union’s political unity was maintained and strengthened in the face of multiple threats and challenges: unprecedented migratory pressures, shifts in geopolitics, a sustained terror threat, an uncertain economic outlook and the decision by British voters to leave.

From 2016 to the present, Europe’s leaders have remained united on the fundamental issues, from the withdrawal negotiations with the United Kingdom to standing together against external threats, whether it is Russia’s continued aggression in Ukraine or fundamental challenges to the global trading system.

Due to a strong belief in the Union as the framework for member states’ common future, Europe remains a positive point of reference for the world, from championing the Paris Agreement to combat climate change to promoting the rules-based international order with free and fair trade at its centre.

Internally, the EU needs to invest more in the protection of our people against security threats, illegal migration and uncontrolled globalisation. Tough negotiations continue to limit the damage to citizens, businesses and member states arising from the UK’s departure on 29 March 2019.

And there is still much to do to strengthen economic and monetary union, advance co-operation on defence issues and develop a sensible, crisis-resilient migration policy.

EuropeanCouncilMay16toJune18 (pdf)

EU Council meeting 28-29 June – Theresa May

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Theresa May delivered the following statement in Parliament on 02 July 2018 about the EU Council meeting:

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-commons-statement-on-june-european-council-2-july-2018

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on last week’s European Council. The focus of this Council was on migration – and there were also important conclusions on security and defence. The UK made a substantive contribution to both. And our continued co-operation after we have left the EU will be in everyone’s interests, helping to ensure the long-term prosperity and security of the whole continent.

EU Council Meeting 28-29 June 2018 (Brexit)

An EU Council meeting was held on 28-29 June 2018 which focused on migration. Leaders also discussed security and defence, as well as economic and financial affairs.

As regards Brexit, the European Council (Art. 50), in an EU 27 format, reviewed the state of play of Brexit negotiations and adopted conclusions on progress made.

  • The European Council welcomed the further progress made on parts of the legal text of the Withdrawal Agreement. However leaders highlighted that important aspects still need to be agreed.
  • EU27 leaders expressed their concern that no substantial progress had yet been achieved on agreeing a backstop solution for Ireland/Northern Ireland. They stressed the need for intensified efforts so that the Withdrawal Agreement, including its provisions on transition, can be concluded as soon as possible in order to come into effect on the date of withdrawal. Negotiations can only progress as long as all commitments undertaken so far are respected in full.
  • The European Council (Art. 50) stressed that work had to be accelerated with a view to preparing a political declaration on the framework for the future relationship. This requires further clarity as well as realistic and workable proposals from the UK as regards its position on the future relationship.
  • Finally, the European Council renewed its call upon member states, EU institutions and all stakeholders to step up their work on preparedness at all levels and for all outcomes.
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