Speech by Michel Barnier at BusinessEurope Day 2018
Brussels, 1 March 2018
Ladies and Gentlemen,
2018 is an important year. Not only for BUSINESSEUROPE – congratulations on your 60th anniversary – but also for the European Union. As President Tusk told you this morning, 2018 should be a year when the EU makes progress on many fronts:
to name but a few.
2018 is also the year when we need to conclude the negotiations with the United Kingdom on its orderly withdrawal and define the framework for our future relationship. The outcome will have an impact on millions of citizens and many of your businesses.
So, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure for me to speak to you at the end of your day. Thank you, Madam President, Emma MARCEGAGLIA, and Markus BEYRER for this invitation to continue our dialogue about Brexit.
On 23 June 2016 the British people made a choice to leave the EU.
We regret the decision but we respect it and now we have to implement it.
Our responsibility is to make sure that the UK’s withdrawal is orderly. Because a disorderly withdrawal would be a very bad outcome. And I recommend that everyone, on both sides, measures the consequences of a “no deal”.
So we have worked on this orderly withdrawal, step by step, since the opening of negotiations in June last year.
In December, we reached agreement on our three priorities: citizens’ rights, the need to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, and the financial settlement. We are now in the second stage of the negotiations, and we have three tasks to pursue in parallel. Let me illustrate this with a slide.
First, we need to draft the Withdrawal Agreement, which should deal with all consequences of the UK’s departure. For business, important separation issues include customs procedures, the movement of goods, intellectual property, public procurement, data protection and Euratom.
Yesterday, the European Commission presented a draft text – a complete text – which we will now discuss with Member States, in close coordination with the European Parliament. We needed to publish this draft because we have to move forward. In 13 months the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. It is time to start negotiating on the basis of a legal text.