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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

Statement by Michel Barnier 14 Nov 2018

Following the acceptance of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement by the UK cabinet on 14 November 2018, Michel Barnier gave the following statement.

(In English and French, with translation by Google Translate )

Déclaration par Michel Barnier, Brussels, 14 November 2018

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Ce soir, nous venons de publier avec le gouvernement britannique, le projet d’accord complet sur le retrait ordonné du Royaume Uni tel qu’il a été agréé par les négociateurs, des deux côtés.

Tonight we have just published with the British Government the draft comprehensive agreement on the Orderly Withdrawal of the United Kingdom as approved by the negotiators on both sides.

Nous publions également ensemble un plan commenté de la déclaration politique conjointe sur le cadre de notre future relation.

We also publish together a commented plan of the joint political declaration on the framework of our future relationship.

C’est le résultat de négociations intensives, commencées il y a 17 mois, et je veux remercier nos deux équipes pour leur engagement. Vous me permettrez d’ailleurs de dire personnellement l’honneur et la chance que j’ai d’animer une équipe exceptionnelle ici.

This is the result of intensive negotiations, started 17 months ago, and I want to thank both teams for their commitment. You will allow me personally to say the honor and the luck that I have of animating an exceptional team here.

Cet accord représente une étape déterminante pour conclure ces négociations.

This agreement represents a decisive step in concluding these negotiations.

Il est aussi l’aboutissement d’une méthode, celle d’une négociation menée dans la transparence depuis le début, et dans le respect de nos mandats respectifs.

It is also the culmination of a method, that of a negotiation conducted transparently from the beginning, and in accordance with our respective mandates.

Ce projet d’accord de retrait comprend 185 articles, 3 protocoles et plusieurs annexes.
This draft withdrawal agreement includes 185 articles, 3 protocols and several annexes.

The Draft Withdrawal Agreement – 14 November 2018

Theresa May chaired a cabinet meeting on 14 November 2018 to discuss a draft copy of the proposed Withdrawal Agreement and proposed Outline Political Declaration (agreed at negotiator level), following negotiations between teams from the UK and the EU.

Following a lengthy meeting lasting more than 5 hours, the Prime Minister made the following statement outside Number 10.

With the comment

…collective decision of Cabinet was that the Government should agree the draft Withdrawal Agreement and the Outline Political Declaration

The statement in full:

The Cabinet has just had a long, detailed and impassioned debate on the draft Withdrawal Agreement and the Outline Political Declaration on our future relationship with the European Union.

These documents were the result of thousands of hours of hard negotiation by UK officials, and many, many meetings, which I and other ministers held with our EU counterparts.

I firmly believe that the draft Withdrawal Agreement was the best that could be negotiated, and it was for the Cabinet to decide whether to move on in the talks.

The choices before us were difficult, particularly in relation to the Northern Ireland backstop.

But the collective decision of Cabinet was that the Government should agree the draft Withdrawal Agreement and the Outline Political Declaration – this is a decisive step which enables us to move on and finalise the deal in the days ahead.

These decisions were not taken lightly – but I believe it is a decision that is firmly in the national interest.

When you strip away the detail, the choice before us is clear. This deal which delivers on the vote of the referendum, which brings back control of our money, laws and borders; ends free movement; protects jobs, security and our union; or leave with no deal; or no Brexit at all.

I know that there will be difficult days ahead. This is a decision which will come under intense scrutiny and that is entirely as it should be and entirely understandable.

But the choice was this deal, which enables us to take back control and to build a brighter future for our country, or going back to square one with more division, more uncertainty and a failure to deliver on the referendum.

It is my job as Prime Minister to explain the decisions that the Government has taken and I stand ready to do that beginning tomorrow with a statement in Parliament.

If I may end by just saying this. I believe that what I owe to this country is to take decisions that are in the national interest, and I firmly believe with my head and my heart that this is a decision which is in the best interests of our entire United Kingdom.

Following the meeting/statement, the UK government published copies of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement, Joint Statement and outline of the Political Declaration on the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union

The Withdrawal Agreement sets out the terms of the UK’s divorce from the EU, over 585 pages. The joint political declaration on the future relationship, sets out broad areas for future co-operation.

Progress on the UK’s exit from, and future relationship with, the EU

The draft Withdrawal Agreement sets out the terms of the UK’s smooth and orderly exit from the European Union, including a Protocol on Northern Ireland. It reflects agreement in principle between the UK and EU negotiating teams on the full legal text. Ahead of signature, this draft will be subject to a further review by UK and EU lawyers to ensure consistency as it is translated into all EU Member State languages. This may mean that legal terminology and article numbers will change. The Government intends to lay a final version of the agreement before Parliament once it is finalised.

The outline of the Political Declaration on the future relationship sets out progress on the scope of the framework for the future relationship. Negotiations are ongoing to finalise the Political Declaration.

Draft Agreement on the Withdrawal of the UK from the EU and the European Atomic Energy Community (PDF 585 pages)

Outline Political Declaration on the Future Relationship (PDF 7 pages)

Joint Statement (PDF 2 pages)

Additional information is available

Explainer for the agreement on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU (PDF 56 pages)

Technical explanatory note: Articles 6-8 on the Northern Ireland Protocol (PDF 2 pages)

UK overseas trade in goods September 2018

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HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) collects the UK’s international trade in goods data for Non-EU and EU trade with the UK. These are published on a monthly basis and figures for September have recently been released. (9th November 2018)

A summary is provided in a document available at

UK overseas trade in goods statistics September 2018: commentary

Total trade in goods exports for September 2018 were £32.3 billion.

Total trade in goods imports for September 2018 were £41.6 billion.

The UK was a net importer this month, with imports exceeding exports by £9.3 billion.

For EU trade the UK was a net importer this month, with imports exceeding exports by £7.7 billion.

For Non-EU trade the UK was a net importer this month, with imports exceeding exports by £1.6 billion.

Imports to the UK

EU: £22 billion

Non-EU: £19.6 billion

Germany accounted for 13% of the total value of imports to the UK. China had the second largest proportion of the total value of trade, accounting for 10%. The top five partner countries accounted for 44% of total UK import value this month.

Exports from the UK

EU £14.3 billion

Non-EU £18 billion

The USA accounted for 13% per cent of the total value of goods exports from the UK. Germany had the second largest proportion, accounting for 9.3% The top five export partners accounted for 44% of
total exports in goods this month.

Spreadsheets are available which show the figures in more detail. The following tables contain EU and Non-EU import and export data for September 2018 at chapter level.

UK overseas trade in goods statistics September 2018: imports

UK overseas trade in goods statistics September 2018: exports

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