Brexit Negotiations

Statement by Michel Barnier – 19 November 2018

Press statement by Michel Barnier following the General Affairs Council (Article 50) meeting on 19 November 2018.

Statement by Michel Barnier, Chief Negotiator for Article 50 negotiations at the press conference with Gernot Blümel, Austrian Federal Minister for the EU, Arts, Culture and Media after the General Affairs Council

Brussels, 19 November 2018

Opening statement by Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier

Good morning everyone. I hope you are all well after a very busy few days and also busy nights.

Thank you very much, Gernot, for your appreciation. Thank you also to the team of the Austrian Presidency. If I may, at a very key moment where we are in this negotiation, I want to thank the Council, the team of the Council, the Parliament also, and obviously Jean-Claude Juncker and all the services of the Commission for their trust and their cooperation.

I have just debriefed the Ministers of the EU27 on the agreement that we reached last week at negotiators’ level on the draft Withdrawal Agreement, as well as on the outline of the political declaration on the future relationship.

We are in fact at a decisive moment in this process. No one should lose sight of the progress that has been achieved in Brussels and in London.

I am pleased that Ministers today supported the overall package. In particular, Member States support the draft Withdrawal Agreement. On the EU side, we still need to determine the internal procedure of the Union for agreeing to extend the transition. But globally speaking, this deal is fair and balanced.

It takes into account the UK positions. In particular, we have found a compromise to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Both sides, both parties want to avoid using the backstop.

Finally, this deal allows for the orderly withdrawal which is in our common interest. An orderly withdrawal is the condition to lay the ground for an ambitious partnership.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have also informed Ministers of the state of play of the discussions on the framework for the future relationship. Discussions on that declaration are ongoing – now, today – with the UK negotiators. This is now our focus. The declaration will open the door to negotiations on an ambitious, economic and strategic partnership in the future once the UK will have left.

In any case, for the future relationship, both the EU and the UK will have full control of their own legislation and rule-making. This is essential, on our side, for the integrity of the single market. It is essential for the UK in terms of taking back control.

Now, more than ever, we must all remain calm – and I will remain calm – and keep our focus on the need for the UK to leave the EU in an orderly fashion.

Thank you very much.

Brexit Negotiations Withdrawal Agreement

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.

Brexit Negotiations Speech Withdrawal Agreement

Michel Barnier Speech 10 October 2018

A speech by Michel Barnier at the closing session of Eurochambre’s European Parliament of Enterprises 2018 given on 10 Oct 2018. Given in French and English

Read the speech, as presented, at

Brexit Negotiations

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.

Brexit Negotiations Press Release

Press statement by Michel Barnier on 8 June 2018

Press statement by Michel Barnier following negotiations with the UK during 5-8 June 2018.

Brussels, 8 June 2018

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am very happy to be here to debrief you on the round of negotiations which has just ended, less than three weeks from the European Council.

I would like to frankly present to you today, as I usually do, the three points of this negotiation:

  • The separation issues
  • The major question of Ireland and Northern Ireland, in light of the UK paper presented yesterday
  • The future partnership and the conditions to succeed.

First of all, a general remark:

It is now time to take decisions and make choices. Time is short. In less than 10 months, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union, as it so wished. And, I repeat, we must conclude an agreement on the orderly withdrawal by autumn to give the necessary time on both sides for ratification – which was always my objective.

We continue to work intensely and, on our side, we will continue to explain calmly and clearly our positions, as well as recalling – as is sometimes necessary – what the European Union, the Single Market and the Customs Union are. And, seeing as time is short, I also recall that we are always available and ready to intensify the rhythm of our meetings and negotiations.