It is often unclear who is actually driving negotiations on the EU side of the debate. Could it be MEPs making all the decisions ?
A letter was recently sent (29 November 2017) from the Brexit Steering Group (BSG), a committee of the European Parliament, to the EU negotiator (Michel Barnier ?) and stated that, in their opinion, there had not been sufficient progress in the Brexit neogtiations so far.
Amongst other comments, it outlines the position of the BSG on Citizens Rights, that
…the CJEU must remain the sole and competent authority for interpreting and enforcing European Union law and not least the citizens’ rights provisions of the withdrawal agreement…
On the NI/Ireland border issue to
….ensure, by means of continued regulatory alignment between the North and the South, there is no hardening of the border on the island of Ireland ….
Which are clearly 2 of the major points of contention.
In its entirety, the letter stated:
The Brexit Steering Group today met with the chairs and coordinators of the European Parliament’s Committees on Employment and Social Affairs, Legal Affairs and Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, to assess the current state of negotiations concerning citizens’ rights.
As you know, the European Parliament has made it very clear from the beginning that the protection of the rights of citizens must be absolute and beyond any doubt.
We clearly recognise that progress has been made since the start of the negotiations, from a system based exclusively on UK immigration law to a system that reflects the preservation of EU rights.
Despite this, considerable problems remain, which pose a fundamental question as to whether sufficient progress has been achieved. These issues have already been underlined by the Brexit Steering Group in its Statement of 8 November on citizens’ rights. While all of them remain important, we wish to call your attention to the following issues.
First, we cannot accept any differentiated treatment between core family members. Bold steps should be taken now to prevent this from happening and to overcome the current deadlock. In particular, we should avoid creating a situation in which children of EU citizens born from different relationships would find themselves having a different legal status from that of children born before Brexit, therefore resulting in a possible split of families.
Second, on the administrative procedure required in order to achieve so-called “settled status”, we take note of the progress made in the last weeks, but can only reiterate that this must be an automatic, cost-free process in the form of a simple declaration, placing the burden of proof on the UK authorities to challenge the declaration.
It is also crucial for us that solid safeguards are put in place to ensure the proportionality of the process and to protect and support EU citizens, including the most vulnerable.
Finally, we can only again reiterate our position that in order to guarantee the coherence and integrity of the EU legal order, the CJEU must remain the sole and competent authority for interpreting and enforcing European Union law and not least the citizens’ rights provisions of the withdrawal agreement.
It is with great concern that we note that negotiations in this respect are stalled, and even some progress reversed.
Concerning Ireland, the BSG believes that the UK must make a clear commitment, to be enshrined in a form which would guarantee its full implementation in the withdrawal agreement, that it would protect the operation of the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts, ensure, by means of continued regulatory alignment between the North and the South, there is no hardening of the border on the island of Ireland and that there is no diminishing of the rights of people in Northern Ireland.
We trust that you fully share the above concerns and will continue working to address them in negotiations in the coming days, as their satisfactory resolution will determine Parliament’s assessment of whether sufficient progress has been achieved.
on behalf of the Brexit Steering Group
Details of the Brexit Steering Group
Working under the aegis of the Conference of Presidents, the Brexit Steering Group’s purpose is to coordinate and prepare Parliament’s deliberations, considerations and resolutions on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
The Deputy Secretary-General supports the work of the Brexit Steering Group.
The Brexit Steering Group consists of the following MEPs
Guy Verhofstadt, Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Elmar Brok, Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats)
Roberto Gualtieri, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament
Philippe Lamberts, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance
Gabriele Zimmer, Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left
Danuta Hübner, Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats)
It is also worth noting that any withdrawal agreement at the end of the negotiations between the UK and the EU will need to win the approval of the European Parliament.