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Barnier’s Statement at a Press Conference 8 December 2017

The statement by the EU’s Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, at a press conference following the release of the joint report by the UK and EU negotiators on progress and agreements reached during the EU’s Phase 1 of the Brexit negotiation.

This statement indicates Michel Barnier’s and probably the EU’s, interpretation of the joint progress report. Is this the same as what we have been told in the UK?

(Translation from French to English using Google Translate – No apologies for the accuracy, or lack of it.)

Brussels, 8 December 2017

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning,

Let me thank David Davis who had to travel back to London with the Prime Minister Theresa May.

Today, after six months of work, we have published a joint report which lists our points of agreement so far.

  • This document is detailed and precise.
  • I have always said that we wanted to be fully transparent to citizens and taxpayers. We need to be accountable, at every stage of the negotiations.
  • If the European Council agrees, and following the European Parliament’s resolution next week, this document could be the basis for the Withdrawal Agreement.

Let me be clear: there is still work to be done and negotiations on a number of issues, such as the governance of our agreement and Euratom. There are more hurdles to take.

We will need to have the final version of the Withdrawal Agreement ready by October 2018. Less than one year.

But at this turning point I want to pay tribute to the dedication of all members of both our teams and our coordinators Olly Robbins and Sabine Weyand. We have all worked very hard over the last few weeks, days and nights to achieve this first result.

This first result was also made possible by our very close work with the Council team, the 27 Member States and the European Parliament. On the EU side, we have all worked together, every single week since negotiations started.

On Wednesday, the President and I updated the College of Commissioners.

As President Juncker told you this morning, based on our agreement, his recommendation, my recommendation, and the recommendation of the College of Commissioners is that the progress achieved today is sufficient to move to the next phase. It is now up to the European Council to decide whether this constitutes sufficient progress, and to move the talks to the next stage.

We will then have completed the first chapter of this extraordinary negotiation.

My assessment of this first result, ladies and gentlemen, is based on the real progress on each of our three main issues.

This is a long post so by all means continue reading. Alternatively, the statement can be downloaded from

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-17-5186_en.htm

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-17-5186_en.pdf (pdf)

Junkers Statement at Press Conference 8 December 2017

The statement by EU President Juncker at the joint press conference with Theresa May, Prime Minister of the UK following the release of the joint report by the UK and EU negotiators on progress and agreements reached during the EU’s Phase 1 of the Brexit negotiation.

Brussels, 8 December 2017

Prime Minister,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This morning, Prime Minister May and I had a meeting to take stock of progress since we met on Monday. I will not hide that in between Monday and this morning we had a lot of talks – the Prime Minister and myself; the Taoiseach and myself; the Taoiseach and the Prime Minister.

And that is the reason why I would like to thank the Prime Minister for her determination. I would also like to thank Michel Barnier and David Davis, as well as their teams, for the extremely hard and skilful work over the last weeks and months. We discussed the Joint Report agreed by the two negotiators. Prime Minister May has assured me that it has the backing of the UK Government. On that basis, I believe we have now made the breakthrough we needed.

Today’s result is of course a compromise. It is the result of a long and intense discussion between the Commission’s negotiators and those of the UK. As in any negotiation, both sides had to listen to each other, adjust their position, and show a willingness to compromise. This was a difficult negotiation for the European Union as well as for the United Kingdom.

On Wednesday, the College of Commissioners gave me a mandate to conclude the negotiation of the Joint Report. And it had to be concluded today – not next week – today because next week we will have the European Council and in order to allow our partners to prepare in the best way possible the meeting of the European Council we had to make the deal today. On the basis of that mandate, the Commission has just formally decided to recommend to the European Council that sufficient progress has now been made on the strict terms of the divorce.

Es wurden genügend Fortschritte erzielt, damit wir jetzt in die zweite Phase der Verhandlungen eintreten können.

– Sufficient progress has been made so that we can now enter the second phase of the negotiations.

Nous avons pu faire les progrès suffisants pour que désormais nous puissions entrer en deuxième phase de la négociation entre le Royaume-Uni et l’Union européenne à 27.

– We have been able to make sufficient progress so that we can now enter the second phase of the negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union at 27.

The decision on sufficient progress will be in the hands of the 27 Heads of State or Government. I am hopeful, sure, confident – sure – that they will share our appraisal and allow us to move on to the next phase of the negotiations.

Last Monday I also met with the European Parliament representatives. From the start of this process, cooperation between the European Parliament and the Commission has been close and our positions closely aligned. These negotiations can only be successful if we take an inclusive approach; that is exactly what we did.

Without going into all of the detail, allow me to touch on what today’s agreements mean in practice. Later on today, at 09:30, my friend Michel Barnier will be available to explain all the details of the agreement we reached today.

A few remarks on citizens’ rights first. In this negotiation, citizens have always come first. It has been of great importance for the Commission to make sure that EU citizens in the UK will be protected after the UK leaves the European Union. EU citizens have made important life choices on the assumption that the United Kingdom was a member of the European Union. Brexit created great uncertainty for those citizens and for their families. Today, we bring back the certainty. The Commission’s negotiators have made sure that the choices made by EU citizens living in the UK will be protected. We have made sure that their rights will remain the same after the UK has left the European Union. This is in particular the case for: EU citizens’ right to live, work and study; EU citizens’ right to family reunification; the protection of the rights of EU citizens’ children; and the right to healthcare, pensions and other social security benefits. We have made sure that the administrative procedures will be cheap and will be simple. This is an issue to which the Commission will pay particular attention when drafting the withdrawal agreement.

The same goes for UK citizens living in the EU27.

On the settling of accounts, the Prime Minister said in her remarkable Florence speech that the United Kingdom would honour its commitments, including beyond 2020. This was a detailed, line-by-line process but she has been as good as her word. She was negotiating in a gentlemanly manner, and I am very grateful, Prime Minister, for that.

On Ireland, the EU has consistently supported the goal of peace and reconciliation enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement. The European Union has made it a priority to protect the peace process on the island. I have been in regular contact with the Taoiseach over the last days, including last night and including the last negotiations we had in the course of yesterday with our Irish friends. The UK has made significant commitments on the avoidance of a hard border after its withdrawal from the European Union. All of the EU27 stand firmly behind Ireland and behind the peace process.

Let me be clear: we still have a lot of work to do.

The Joint Report is not the withdrawal agreement. That agreement still needs to be drafted by the negotiators on the basis we have agreed yesterday and today, and then approved by the Council and ratified by the UK Parliament and the European Parliament.

534 days ago, the British people voted to leave the European Union. 249 days ago the United Kingdom notified its intention to leave the European Union. And in 477 days the United Kingdom will do just that.

I will always be sad about this development. But now we must start looking to the future. A future in which the United Kingdom will be and will remain a close friend and ally. The Prime Minister and I discussed the need for a transitional period. And we dedicated much of our meeting to our joint vision of a deep and close partnership. It is crucial for us all that we continue working closely together on issues such as trade, research, security and others.

We will take things one step at a time – starting with next week’s European Council. But today, I am hopeful that we are now all moving towards the second phase of these challenging negotiations. And we can do this jointly on the basis of trust, renewed trust, determination and with the perspective of a renewed friendship.

Thank you.

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-17-5181_en.htm

Comments

Today’s result is of course a compromise.

I’m not sure of exactly what the EU negotiating team has compromised on. The majority of the compromises seem to have been made by the UK’s negotiating team with there being little evidence of any compromises made by the EU negotiating team.

Theresa May – Commitments to Northern Ireland

Following the publication of the joint report between the Government of the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the EU on the progress of negotiations in Phase 1, Prime Minister Theresa May issued a statement on the Commitments to Northern Ireland.

COMMITMENTS TO NORTHERN IRELAND

Today I agreed a joint report between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the European Union on the progress of our negotiations.

This covered the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens in the EU; our financial settlement with the EU; and ruling out a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

This progress now enables the UK Government to move to the next phase of negotiations. This next phase will focus on securing the deep and special partnership between the United Kingdom and European Union that we all want to see.

As a Prime Minister who hugely values Northern Ireland’s position within our United Kingdom – and believes passionately that the United Kingdom is stronger and better together – I want to set out six key commitments to Northern Ireland, principles that have guided me in the negotiations with the EU.

These commitments are consistent with our steadfast support for the Belfast Agreement and its successors; the principles that underpin them; the institutions they establish; and, the rights and opportunities they guarantee for everyone. This Government will continue to govern in the interests of the whole community in Northern Ireland and uphold the Agreements that have underpinned the huge progress that has been made over the past two decades.

First, we will always uphold and support Northern Ireland’s status as an integral part of the United Kingdom, consistent with the principle of consent. The Government I lead will never be neutral when it comes to expressing our support for the Union.

Second, we will fully protect and maintain Northern Ireland’s position within the single market of the United Kingdom. This is by far the most important market for Northern Ireland’s goods and services and you will continue to have full and unfettered access to it.

Third, there will be no new borders within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In addition to no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, we will maintain the Common Travel Area throughout these islands.

Fourth, the whole of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, will leave the EU customs union and the EU single market. Nothing in the agreement I have reached alters that fundamental fact.

Fifth, we will uphold the commitments and safeguards set out in the Belfast Agreement regarding North-South Co-operation. This will continue to require cross-community support.

Sixth, the whole of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, will no longer be subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

These negotiations are crucial for the future of Northern Ireland and the whole United Kingdom. Whether you voted Leave or Remain, I am determined to deliver an outcome that works in the best interests of everyone across the United Kingdom.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/prime-ministers-commitments-to-northern-ireland

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/665870/prime-ministers-commitments-to-northern-ireland.pdf (pdf)

Progress during Phase 1 Negotiations with the EU

A Joint Report, consisting of 15 pages covering 96 points, has been released by the teams involved in the negotiations between the UK and EU regarding the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The EU has demanded that discussions are held in 2 phases with no progression to the 2nd phase of negotiations (primarily the future relationship between the UK and the EU) until topics defined under their Phase 1 agenda have been concluded.

Both parties have reached agreement in principle in the areas under consideration in the first phase of negotiations, with the UK having conceded to all the demands from the EU.

  • Protecting the rights of UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK
  • A framework for addressing the unique circumstances in Northern Ireland
  • The financial settlement

Citizens Rights

The role of the CJEU in maintaing Citizens Rights remains unclear. Does the following indicate that the UK will have to refer to CJEU rulings for 8 years after the UK leaves the EU?

Page 6, Paragraph 38

In the context of the application or interpretation of those rights, UK courts shall therefore have due regard to relevant decisions of the CJEU after the specified date. The Agreement should also establish a mechanism enabling UK courts or tribunals to decide, having had due regard to whether relevant case-law exists, to ask the CJEU questions of interpretation of those rights where they consider that a CJEU ruling on the question is necessary for the UK court or tribunal to be able to give judgment in a case before it.

As regards the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme, it looks as though this will only apply to UK citizens who are in an EU country (and vice-versa) on the “specified date of leaving” and will not be carried forward in the future when UK citizens are travelling abroad.

Page 5, Paragraph 29,

Rules for healthcare, including the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme, will follow Regulation (EC) No 883/2004. Persons whose competent state is the UK and are in the EU27 on the specified date (and vice versa) – whether on a temporary stay or resident – continue to be eligible for healthcare reimbursement, including under the EHIC scheme, as long as that stay, residence or treatment continues.

Ireland and Northern Ireland

The UK confirms the committment that NI will remain an integral part of the UK.

Page 7, Paragraph 44

The United Kingdom continues to respect and support fully Northern Ireland’s position as an integral part of the United Kingdom, consistent with the principle of consent.

The UK hope to ensure that there is no hard border created between Northern Ireland (NI) and Ireland following discussions between the UK and the EU in the next Phase of negotiations. The wording in this Joint report has been carefully constructed to ensure acceptance by representatives of NI and the Irish Government. “full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union” would appear to come into effect if there is no agreement reached during Phase 2 negotiations.

Page 8, Paragraphs 49,50

49. The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting North-South cooperation and to its guarantee of avoiding a hard border. Any future arrangements must be compatible with these overarching requirements. The United Kingdom’s intention is to achieve these objectives through the overall EU-UK relationship. Should this not be possible, the United Kingdom will propose specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland. In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the all island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement.

50. In the absence of agreed solutions, as set out in the previous paragraph, the United Kingdom will ensure that no new regulatory barriers develop between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, unless, consistent with the 1998 Agreement, the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly agree that distinct arrangements are appropriate for Northern Ireland. In all circumstances, the United Kingdom will continue to ensure the same unfettered access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the United Kingdom internal market.

Financial Settlement

The UK and EU have agreed a methodology to determine the financial settlement demanded by the EU.

  • The UK will contribute to, and participate in, the implementation of the Union annual budgets for the years 2019 and 2020 as if it had remained in the EU
  • Outstanding commitments at the end of 2020, Reste à liquider (RAL) 1. The UK will contribute its share of the financing of the budgetary commitments outstanding at 31 December 2020 (RAL).
  • Liabilities, contingent liabilities and corresponding assets. The UK will contribute its share of the financing of the Union’s liabilities incurred before 31 December 2020 except for liabilities with corresponding assets and any assets and liabilities which are related to the operation of the budget and the Own Resources Decision

Many questions remain unanswered with no specific figure mentioned or when payment(s) will be demanded.

Will the UK will still receive the rebate from its “GNI based Own Resources” gross contributions?

It is interesting to note that the EU have already specified their own repayment program of 12 YEARS! regarding repayment of funds (paid-in capital) due to the UK from the European Investment Bank. Perhaps the UK should suggest a long repayment period of small amounts each year over a similar time period.

European Investment Bank.
The UK will provide a guarantee for an amount equal to its callable capital on the day of withdrawal. The EU will take 12 years to return the UK’s share of the paid-in capital (3.5 billion euro) at a rate of 300,000,000 euro for the first 11 years and a final payment of 195,903,950 euro in year 12, 2019 – 2030.

There is no mention of a share of the accumulated profits of the EIB which are worth a total of around 44.5 billion euro (cfr. https://politick.co.uk/the-uk-and-the-european-investment-bank-eib/ ) and would provide a share to the UK worth around 7.0 billion euro. In fact, the report specifically excludes any further remuneration.

Page 13, Paragraph 77

77. Apart from these reimbursements, the EIB will not make any other payment, return or remuneration on account of the withdrawal of the UK from the EIB or on account of the provision by the UK of a guarantee.

There is also mention about paying towards the relocation of the EU Agencies currently based in London. (Typical of the EU attempting to screw as much money as possible from the UK)

Page 14, Paragraph 86

86. The Commission welcomes the UK Government’s offer to discuss with Union Agencies located in London how they might facilitate their relocation, in particular as regards reducing the withdrawal costs.

At least the final item does mention that the report is dependent on an overall agreement on the UK’s Withdrawal and a framework for the future relationship between the UK and the EU.

Page 15, Paragraph 96

This report is put forward with a view to the meeting of the European Council (Article 50) of 14 and 15 December 2017. It is also agreed by the UK on the condition of an overall agreement under Article 50 on the UK’s withdrawal, taking into account the framework for the future relationship, including an agreement as early as possible in 2018 on transitional arrangements.

The document can be found in it’s entirety at

Joint report on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU

With a copy that can be downloaded from HERE (pdf)

What’s next?

This report summarises the key points which can be used in a formal Withdrawal Agreement when the UK leaves the EU.

It appears highly likely, that following publication of this report, there is a strong possibility of the negotiations being allowed (by the EU) to progress to the next Phase (2) of negotiations where the future relationship between the UK and the EU will be decided (by the EU) discussed. One of the important discussions during the next Phase will, of course, be a Future Trade relationship between the UK and the EU.

References

In order to understand some of the details mentioned in the section of the Financial Settlement there is an interesting post

The UK’s Brexit bill: what are the possible liabilities?

which was written in March 2017 and contains a description of some of the terms used in the Report.

Bruegel is a European think tank that specialises in economics.

Notes:

  1. What is the “reste à liquider” (RAL)?
    The RAL is the sum of outstanding commitments, commitments agreed to but that have not yet translated into payments. Long term budgetary commitments lead to the existence of amounts of commitments remaining to be paid out (RAL). The phenomenon is similar to when a contract is signed, e.g. to build a house, the commitment is being made, but the construction company will only be paid according to the progress of the work.
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