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EU Parliament – Brexit, No Progress

by Politicker 0 Comments

I found it interesting to note that the EU Parliament had already prepared a Draft Motion for a Resolution, to wind up the debate on the state of play of negotiations with the United Kingdom, even before the 4th round of negotiations had actually finished and mentioned in a press release dated 28-09-2017 12:12

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20170927IPR84822/brexit-lack-of-sufficient-progress-on-divorce-terms

The draft resolution claims that: Progresss on EU priorities in the first four rounds of talks with the UK has not been sufficient.

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/resources/library/media/20170928RES84907/20170928RES84907.pdf (pdf)

The motion is due to be debated on Tuesday 3 October, with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Chief Negotiator on Brexit Michel Barnier. The resolution as voted will set out Parliament’s input to the 20 October European Council summit in Brussels, when government leaders will assess progress in the Brexit negotiations.

Although any withdrawal agreement will need to win the approval of the European Parliament this motion could be stated as only an “opinion” by the Parliament as, of course, the UK is negotiating with Michel Barnier, not the EU Parliament.

Update 03 October 2017:

As might have been expected, the resolution was passed by 557 votes to 92 (and 29 abstentions) following a debate on Tuesday 3 October and MEPs recommended that

The government leaders of the EU 27 member states should postpone their assessment of Brexit on 20 October as “sufficient progress” has not been made on three key aims unless the fifth round of talks on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU delivers a major breakthrough.

Brexit Negotiations – Round 4

The fourth round of talks between the UK and the EU starts on Monday 25th September 2017 and is scheduled to take place from 25-28 September 2017.

There is nothing different in the agenda from previous rounds, so its hardly worth quoting the Agenda for the week of meetings, but here it is

Monday, 25 September 2017
Negotiating groups
17:30: David Davis, UK Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, and Michel Barnier, European Commission Chief Negotiator, meet at the Berlaymont (VIP corner).
Principals’ meeting

Tuesday, 26 September 2017
Negotiating groups

Wednesday, 27 September 2017
Negotiating groups
Coordinators’ meeting

Thursday, 28 September 2017
Plenary session with the Principals

Press briefing

Note: There are three negotiating groups covering citizens’ rights, financial settlement and other separation issues. The issues related to Northern Ireland will be addressed by the Coordinators. The governance of the withdrawal agreement will be also discussed at technical level.

Michel Barnier made the following statement at the opening of the proceedings

Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, a word of thanks to the Estonian Presidency and to Matti Maasikas, and to the whole team in the Embassy, and to all the Ministers doing a tremendous job – in particular in my area – in a spirit of trust and reciprocity that I would like to commend.

In her speech in Florence, Theresa May expressed a constructive spirit, which is also ours, as the Ministers unanimously confirmed today in the Council.

What matters now – during this limited time, when every day we are getting closer to the 29 March 2019: the day the UK will become a third country, as was its wish and demand – is that the UK government translates Mrs. May’s statements into clear negotiating positions.

And that we discuss in detail these positions around the negotiating table.

We are therefore at a moment of clarity, particularly regarding citizens’ rights and the financial settlement. And we need to advance on finding a unique solution for Ireland. On all of these subjects, and on a few others, this is the moment of clarity.

Since Friday, the 27 Member States have reaffirmed their unity. This was once again confirmed in the discussions in the Council today. And this unity is shared also by the political groups I met this morning in the European Parliament– as I do almost every week.

A word now on the new, key element raised in Theresa May’s speech: The United Kingdom requested for the first time a transition period for a limited amount of time beyond its withdrawal from the European Union and its institutions.

This is currently not part of my mandate, but I would like to insist on a few conditions that the European Council has already set out. Allow me to refer you to the European Council guidelines, which must be read regularly – as I often do.

1. The Union also must decide if such a period is in its interest.

2. Any transition must respect the legal and financial framework of the Single Market. To quote the European Council: “Should a time-limited prolongation of Union acquis be considered, this would require existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures to apply.” Those are the words of the European Council. I think that everybody should remember them.

3. Finally, discussions on a transition – which will now take place since the UK has requested it – do not absolve us from the necessity of making “sufficient progress.” Progress on our three key issues remains more than ever necessary in order to build the trust needed to begin discussing our future relationship.

A final point, which is also important, is that we do not mix up the discussion on liabilities and commitments from the past – which are the subjects that make up the orderly withdrawal – with a discussion on the future relationship.

The fourth round of negotiations this week should allow us to advance on each of these key points and to get the clarity that is needed to make progress.

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-17-3461_en.htm

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-17-3461_en.pdf (pdf)

David Davis made the following statement at the opening of the proceedings:

Thank you Michel.

I’m pleased to be back in Brussels with you for the fourth round of negotiations.

We expect this to be a busy week. One that will set us on the important path towards our future partnership. The Prime Minister’s speech on Friday set out clearly the leadership and flexibility needed to make a success of these negotiations.

This round, for me, will be about building on the technical work done in previous rounds and the concrete proposals provided by the speech in Florence. It will be now for our teams to work through those details this week.

On Citizens’ Rights we will incorporate the agreement fully into UK law and take steps to ensure consistent interpretation. We hope to make progress on issues like the onward movement of UK citizens in the EU, and voting rights in local elections. We both want to avoid changes to the way citizens enjoy their rights and our proposals will deliver that.

On Northern Ireland and Ireland we made good progress at the last round, as you said, with a common desire to maintain the Common Travel Area and protect the Good Friday Agreement. This week will now be about crunching through the technical detail of how we, together, make that happen.

On the financial settlement, as part of a smooth and orderly exit, we do not want our EU partners to worry that they will need to pay more or receive less over the remainder of the current budget plan as a result of our decision to leave. The UK will honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership.

But it’s obvious that reaching a conclusion on this issue can only be done in the context of and in accordance with our new deep and special partnership with the EU.

So the UK is absolutely committed to work through the detail.

We are laying out concrete proposals and there are no excuses for standing in the way of progress.

It will take pragmatism on both sides to make headway, and I hope we can achieve that this week.

Thank you.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/david-davis-opening-remarks-at-the-start-of-the-fourth-round-of-eu-exit-negotiations

Barnier’s response to PM Speech

Michel Barnier issued the following statment in response to the speech given by Theres May in Florence.

In her speech in Florence, Prime Minister Theresa May has expressed a constructive spirit which is also the spirit of the European Union during this unique negotiation.

The speech shows a willingness to move forward, as time is of the essence. We need to reach an agreement by autumn 2018 on the conditions of the United Kingdom’s orderly withdrawal from the European Union. The UK will become a third country on 30 March 2019.

Our priority is to protect the rights of citizens. EU27 citizens in the United Kingdom must have the same rights as British citizens today in the European Union. These rights must be implemented effectively and safeguarded in the same way in the United Kingdom as in the European Union, as recalled by the European Council and European Parliament. Prime Minister May’s statements are a step forward but they must now be translated into a precise negotiating position of the UK government.

With regard to Ireland, the United Kingdom is the co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement. Today’s speech does not clarify how the UK intends to honour its special responsibility for the consequences of its withdrawal for Ireland. Our objective is to preserve the Good Friday Agreement in all its dimensions, as well as the integrity of the Single Market and the Customs Union.

The United Kingdom recognises that no Member State will have to pay more or receive less because of Brexit. We stand ready to discuss the concrete implications of this pledge. We shall assess, on the basis of the commitments taken by the 28 Member States, whether this assurance covers all commitments made by the United Kingdom as a Member State of the European Union.

Today, for the first time, the United Kingdom government has requested to continue to benefit from access to the Single Market, on current terms, and to continue to benefit from existing cooperation in security. This is for a limited period of up to two years, beyond its withdrawal date, and therefore beyond its departure from the EU institutions.

If the European Union so wishes, this new request could be taken into account. It should be examined in light of the European Council guidelines of 29 April 2017: “Should a time-limited prolongation of Union acquis be considered, this would require existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures to apply.”

The sooner we reach an agreement on the principles of the orderly withdrawal in the different areas – and on the conditions of a possible transition period requested by the United Kingdom – the sooner we will be ready to engage in a constructive discussion on our future relationship.

The EU shares the goal of establishing an ambitious partnership for the future. The fact that the government of the United Kingdom recognises that leaving the European Union means that it cannot keep all the benefits of membership with fewer obligations than the other Member States is welcome. In any case, the future relationship will need to be based on a balance of rights and obligations. It will need to respect the integrity of the Union’s legal order and the autonomy of its decision-making.

The EU will continue to insist on sufficient progress in the key areas of the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom before opening discussions on the future relationship. Agreeing on the essential principles in these areas will create the trust that is needed for us to build a future relationship together.

David Davis and I will meet in Brussels next Monday to begin the fourth round of the negotiations. As always, we are preparing the upcoming round with the 27 Member States and the European Parliament. On Monday I will have a discussion with the European Parliament in its Brexit Steering Group, as well as with all Member States in the General Affairs Council.

We look forward to the United Kingdom’s negotiators explaining the concrete implications of Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech. Our ambition is to find a rapid agreement on the conditions of the United Kingdom’s orderly withdrawal, as well as on a possible transition period.

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-17-3427_en.htm

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-17-3427_en.pdf (pdf)

Prime Minister’s speech in Florence

by Politicker

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, made a speech in the Italian city of Florence on 22 September 2017, to announce her vision of a new era of cooperation and partnership between the UK and the EU following Brexit.

A transcript of the speech (exactly as delivered) is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pms-florence-speech-a-new-era-of-cooperation-and-partnership-between-the-uk-and-the-eu

She made the speech in an attempt to break a perceived deadlock in the on-going Brexit meetings with the EU, due to continue next week with the 4th round of negotiations, and to move on to talk about the future relationship between the UK and the EU.

There are a number of major differences between the UK and the EU in some areas of the negotiations which are currently focused on the arrangements for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and covers the topics of EU Citizens Rights, Ireland and Northern Ireland and a financial settlement required by the EU from the UK.

On Ireland she said, the UK was committed to protect the progress made in Northern Ireland over recent years and the lives and livelihoods that depend on this progress.

As part of this, we and the EU have committed to protecting the Belfast Agreement and the Common Travel Area and, looking ahead, we have both stated explicitly that we will not accept any physical infrastructure at the border.

We owe it to the people of Northern Ireland – and indeed to everyone on the island of Ireland – to see through these commitments.

She said, in regards to ensuring the rights of EU citizens in the UK (which is due to be embedded in UK law),

Where there is uncertainty around underlying EU law, I want the UK courts to be able to take into account the judgments of the European Court of Justice with a view to ensuring consistent interpretation. On this basis, I hope our teams can reach firm agreement quickly.

The UK position on this is that British courts should have the final say while the EU considers that the European Court of Justice should have the final say. This is non-negotiable as far as the EU is concerned.

For a future Trade agreement between the UK and the EU, she also dismissed the idea of using an existing model, such as the arrangement between the EU and Norway or the Free Trade agreement between the EU and Canada, as a template.

As I said at Lancaster House, let us not seek merely to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries. Instead let us be creative as well as practical in designing an ambitious economic partnership which respects the freedoms and principles of the EU, and the wishes of the British people.

To support this approach, she pointed out that the UK is currently the EU’s largest trading partner, is one of the largest economies in the world and it’s market is of considerable importance for many businesses and jobs across the continent.

The European Union has shown in the past that creative arrangements can be agreed in other areas. For example, it has developed a diverse array of arrangements with neighbouring countries outside the EU, both in economic relations and in justice and home affairs.

Furthermore, we share the same set of fundamental beliefs; a belief in free trade, rigorous and fair competition, strong consumer rights, and that trying to beat other countries’ industries by unfairly subsidising one’s own is a serious mistake.

So there is no need to impose tariffs where we have none now, and I don’t think anyone sensible is contemplating this.

In order for a future trade partnership to work she suggested an appropriate mechnaism should be found for resolving future disputes without the involvement of the European Court of Justice or UK courts.

It wouldn’t be right for one party’s court to have jurisdiction over the other. But I am confident we can find an appropriate mechanism for resolving disputes.

Presumably using an International Court or arbitration service.

She also proposed an “implementation period” after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, with access to one another’s markets continuing on the current terms, for a time limited period.

…such an agreement on the future partnership will require the appropriate legal ratification, which would take time.

It is also the case that people and businesses – both in the UK and in the EU – would benefit from a period to adjust to the new arrangements in a smooth and orderly way.

As I said in my speech at Lancaster House a period of implementation would be in our mutual interest. That is why I am proposing that there should be such a period after the UK leaves the EU.

She suggested the implementation period (which has also been called a transitional period previously) should be for not more than 2 years and that during the implementation period EU citizens coming to work and live in the UK would be required to register – something which will probably not go down well in the EU.

For example, it will take time to put in place the new immigration system required to re-take control of the UK’s borders.

So during the implementation period, people will continue to be able to come and live and work in the UK, but there will be a registration system – an essential preparation for the new regime.

There was also an indication that the UK would continue payments to the EU to honour commitments made previously. If this was meant during the transitional period of 2 years, it has been suggested that this could amount to around £18 million or 20 million euros in total, although an actual amount has not been specified by the PM or her Government.

Still I do not want our partners to fear that they will need to pay more or receive less over the remainder of the current budget plan as a result of our decision to leave. The UK will honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership.

Overall, there didn’t appear to any new suggestions which were significantly different to anything which has been said in the past. Whether her speech has succeeded in opening up the Brexit negotiations to discussions about the future relationship between the UK and the EU remains to be seen.

EU State of the Union Speech 2017

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Every year in September, the President of the European Commission delivers his State of the Union Address to the European Parliament, taking stock of achievements of the past year and presenting priorities for the year ahead. Jean-Claude Junker presented his State of the Union Speech for 2107 on the 13 September.

The full speech is available at

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/state-union-2017_en

and

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-17-3165_en.pdf (pdf)

He mentioned the recent trade agreement between the EU and Canada, talked about a new economic partnership with Japan and looked to do the same with Mexico and South American countries. He also proposed opening trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand.

He wants the EU to continue in leading the fight against Climate Change and promised to continue to address the issue regarding refugees.

In terms of the direction for the EU he outlined his roadmap for the future

On 30 March 2019, we will be a Union of 27. I suggest that we prepare for this moment well, amongst the 27 and within the EU institutions.

My hope is that on 30 March 2019, Europeans will wake up to a Union where we all stand by our values. Where all Member States firmly respect the rule of law.

Where we have shored up the foundations of our Economic and Monetary Union so that we can defend our single currency in good times and bad, without having to call on external help.

Where a single President leads the work of the Commission and the European Council, having been elected after a democratic Europe-wide election campaign.

Other major points include:

  • All EU states should join the euro and the European Commission is ready to help them make the transition.
  • EU citizens should have the same working rights wherever they are, so the EU will set up a common labour market agency to regulate conditions.
  • EU should have a functioning defence union by 2025
  • There should be a single President, rather than in the current system with leaders representing the member states, the Commission and the Parliament.
  • The EU budget should be commensurate with its ambition and should not face cuts.
  • Europe will move on, Brexit is not the end and the EU should use the opportunity to restate its mission

Following the State of the Union 2017 speech, a number of Factsheets have been produced by the EU Commission and are available from the EU at :

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/publications/factsheets-state-union-2017_en

The following Factsheets are available:

The State of the Union 2017 brochure is available at

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/state-union-2017-brochure_en.pdf (pdf)

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