Press Statement 18 September 2018 – Michel Barnier

Michel Barnier issued a Press Statement following a meeting of the General Affairs Council (Article 50) on 18 September 2018 regarding the current state of the Brexit negotiations.

The statement was part in French and part in English. The original version is at

In the version supplied here, the parts in French have been translated using Google Translate.

The first part was given in French and Google Translated as:

Thank you to Gernot and the Austrian Presidency for your confidence and for having thus expressed the confidence of the 27 governments represented today around the table.

The Ministers confirmed the unity we work with on a daily basis, through transparency, availability and attention to the concerns that are not always the same in each of the Member States. Together with my team, we take all these sensitivities together, as we do with the European Parliament.

We are in the final stretch of this negotiation.

Since the last meeting of the General Affairs Council on 20 July, we have made progress on some issues of separation, orderly withdrawal, such as Euratom, ongoing judicial cooperation procedures and the protection of personal data exchanged before the end of the transition.

But we still have to agree on two important chapters:

The governance of the withdrawal agreement, which must be credible for the agreement itself to be solid.
The 3000 geographical indications currently protected in the 28 countries of the Union, from Scotch whiskey to Polish vodka or Greek feta cheese. Brexit can not and should not lead to a loss of the intellectual property rights attached to these geographical indications.
We must also move decisively forward now on the Irish question.

The next part was in English

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our proposal for the backstop on Ireland and Northern Ireland has been on the table since February.

It is an insurance policy to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, whatever the future relationship will bring.

It reflects our agreement with the UK in December 2017, confirmed by Prime Minister Theresa May in her letter to President Tusk in March.

We are ready to improve this proposal.

Work on the EU side is ongoing:

We are clarifying which goods arriving into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK would need to be checked and where, when and by whom these checks could be performed.
We can also clarify that most checks can take place away from the border, at the company premises or in the market.
We need to de-dramatise the checks that are needed and that are caused by the UK’s decision to leave the EU, its Single Market and customs union.
What we need in the Withdrawal Agreement is a legally operational backstop, which fully respects the territorial integrity of the UK.

This backstop will only apply unless and until a better solution is found, in the context of our future relationship.

The final part was given in French and Google Translated as:

Ladies and gentlemen,

As Gernot has said, the European Council will meet in Salzburg tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and I will, at the invitation of President Tusk and President Juncker, give the state of play of the negotiations to the Heads of State and government of the 27.

In this perspective, I would like to thank the ministers who spoke today, once again expressing their unwavering solidarity with Ireland, in particular. This solidarity is also shared by all the European institutions, and in particular the European Parliament.

As I have always said, the October European Council will be the moment of truth. This is the moment when we will see if an agreement is within our reach, as I hope and as we are working on it.

Thank you for your attention.