Brussels Daily
20 Jul 2017


Brussels Daily

Speaking points by Michel Barnier at the press conference following the second round of Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom

Good afternoon to all of you,

Thank for your patience which is a critical virtue for any negotiation.

Ladies and gentlemen, David and I and our teams have just finished a few minutes ago the second round of negotiations.

In our first round in June we agreed on the organisation of the negotiations.

Our second round, which began on Monday, was about the presentation of our respective positions.

Our objective was to start working on substance and also to continue building trust between us.

I said last week that I wanted to identify the points where we agree and the points where we disagree.

This was possible this week for the issues on which there was a clear British position.

On substance, it is first and foremost the issue of citizens’ rights that is a priority shared by the European Union, the 27 Member States, the European Parliament and the United Kingdom.

The detailed British position on this subject allowed us to begin to identify points of convergence and points of divergence.

We are now moving in a common direction.

But there remains a fundamental divergence on how to guarantee these rights, and on several other points, such as the rights of future members of the family or the export of certain social benefits.

Citizens must be able to find in the withdrawal agreement itself the legal certainty they need in their daily lives.


Frankly, on our side, we see no other way to guarantee the durability of these European rights exercised.And of course, any reference to European rights implies its control by the Court of Justice of the European Union.The challenge for the next negotiating session will therefore be to clarify the reasons for these divergences, bearing in mind our common objective that the citizens concerned can continue to live as they do today.On the Financial Regulation now, the United Kingdom had recognized last week the existence of obligations vis-à-vis the Union beyond the date of withdrawal and the need to settle these commitments. As the European Union had already recognized. Obviously, only this recognition makes it possible to engage as soon as possible the work on the precise identification of the obligations to be settled.The position of the European Union, made public on 29 May, is the result of a review of all the commitments which, from our point of view, should be covered by the withdrawal agreement. And this week we have detailed the legal analysis of these commitments.As I said very clearly to David, a clarification of the United Kingdom’s position is essential to negotiate and to achieve “sufficient progress” on this financial file, which is inseparable from the other files of the withdrawal. We want – and we are working towards – an orderly exit from the United Kingdom, as he has decided. And an orderly exit requires the payment of the accounts.We know that this agreement will not be formed in a discussion in small steps, not through incremental stepsAs soon as the United Kingdom is ready to clarify the nature of its commitments, we will be ready to discuss them with the British negotiators.


On Ireland, we had a first discussion on the impact of Brexit on two key subjects: the Good Friday Agreement and the Common Travel Area.

We agree that the important issue of the Good Friday Agreement, in all its dimensions, requires more detailed discussions. In particular, more work needs to be done to protect North-South cooperation between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Today, that cooperation is embedded in the common framework of EU law and EU policies.

We need to better understand how the UK intends on ensuring the continuation of this cooperation after Brexit.

We also agreed that the UK should clarify in the next session how it intends on maintaining the Common Travel Area after leaving the EU.

Finally, on the other subjects of separation, we had an exchange of views on the field to be covered, on how to bring legal clarity where the Brexit creates uncertainties, for example for producers, distributors, sellers of goods, but also for police cooperation or for citizens or companies involved in judicial proceedings that are under way.And we explained our positions on the basis of the seven papers we published.We have taken note of the United Kingdom’s clarifications on certain issues and its intention to clarify its positions in the next round of negotiations. The first round was about organisationThe second round was about  presentation.The third round must be that of clarification. In August, we will need clarification:• on the Financial Regulation,• on the rights of citizens,• Ireland, including the Common Travel Area and the Good Friday Agreement first.• on the other subjects of separation, for which this week’s experience proves that we are making better progress when our respective positions are clear.

David Davis’ closing remarks at the end of the second round of EU exit negotiations in Brussels


The statement follows the second round of negotiations for a new partnership with the EU


Thank you Michel. Thank you for your contribution and indeed your team’s constructive talks this week.

On Monday we agreed to get down to serious business. But before turning to the substance I want to reiterate the four core principles that continue to guide the United Kingdom’s approach.

First, we continue to engage constructively, as a full and responsible Member State.

Second, we continue to work hard and at pace. We had 98 civil servants here this week.

Third, we negotiate for every nation and region of the United Kingdom. Our goal is to secure a deal that works for all parts of the country.

And finally, we will keep Parliament and the public informed as the negotiations unfold.

Which moves me onto the substance.

Overall, I am encouraged by the progress we have made on understanding each other’s position on citizens’ rights; the financial settlement; the first meetings of sub-groups on separation issues, and on the issues around Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Citizens’ rights

Since the first round of negotiations, the UK has published its approach to citizens’ rights.

The talks this week have demonstrated that this was both a fair and serious offer.

I am pleased by the progress we have made.

We have looked at each other’s proposals in depth and identified many concrete areas where we agree as well as areas where there will be further discussion, which will be a priority for the next round as Michel has said.

We have also agreed to publishing a joint paper today that sets out the many areas of convergence in our proposals, and the areas we need to prioritise for future discussion in our future rounds.

Michel listed a number of the areas which require that future discussion and I won’t reiterate them, I’ll add to them: issues like voters’ rights, posted workers and of course as he said the need for shared certainty. We agreed on the need for certainty on the part of citizens both the EU and the UK, we obviously have different views on how we achieve that.

Financial settlement

On financial settlement, we both recognise the importance of sorting out the obligations we have to one another, both legally, and in the spirit of mutual cooperation.

We have had robust but constructive talks this week.

Clearly there is a lot left to talk about, and further work before we can resolve this. Ultimately getting to a solution will require flexibility from both sides.

But as Michel said, we shouldn’t expect incremental progress in every round.


On Ireland and Northern Ireland, our coordinators – this is a discussion rather than a working group – have had a good discussion.

Both sides remain committed to the Good Friday Agreement and again as Michel said, achieving a flexible and imaginative solution to address the unique circumstances around the border, and particularly on the north/south dimension of the Agreement.

These include the mechanisms we have discussed to preserve the Common Travel Area and the rights associated with it. Rights laid down of course in a British Act of Parliament as well as in part to the Amsterdam Treaty.

Separation issues

On separation issues, we have made progress on a range of issues, Michel mentioned most of them: Euratom; legal cases pending before the European Court of Justice and administrative procedures before Union institutions; and of course goods on the market.

These discussions have laid important groundwork for progress in the next round.


All in all, the second round of negotiations have given us a lot to be positive about.

And they have also highlighted the need for both sides to demonstrate a dynamic and flexible approach in the way we approach these challenges.

We have conducted this round constructively and at pace, and I hope this is a model we can continue going forward.

To coin a phrase Michel, the clock is ticking.

I came here saying that it was important that we now made progress, identifying the differences so we could deal with them, and finding the similarities so we could reinforce them.

And this week, I think we have done just that.

Thank you.

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