08 Dec 2017


Brexit, Brussels, Brussels Daily

Brexit: European Commission recommends sufficient progress to the European Council (Article 50)

The European Commission has today recommended to the European Council (Article 50) to conclude that sufficient progress has been made in the first phase of the Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom.

It is now for the European Council (Article 50) on 15 December 2017 to decide if sufficient progress has been made, allowing the negotiations to proceed to their second phase.

The Commission’s assessment is based on a Joint Report agreed by the negotiators of the Commission and the United Kingdom Government, which was today endorsed by Prime Minister Theresa May during a meeting with President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The Commission is satisfied that sufficient progress has been achieved in each of the three priority areas of citizens’ rights, the dialogue on Ireland / Northern Ireland, and the financial settlement, as set out in the European Council Guidelines of 29 April 2017. The Commission’s negotiator has ensured that the life choices made by EU citizens living in the United Kingdom will be protected. The rights of EU citizens living in the United Kingdom and United Kingdom citizens in the EU27 will remain the same after the United Kingdom has left the EU. The Commission has also made sure that any administrative procedures will be cheap and simple for EU citizens in the United Kingdom.

As regards the financial settlement, the United Kingdom has agreed that commitments taken by the EU28 will be honoured by the EU28, including the United Kingdom.

With regard to the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom acknowledges the unique situation on the island of Ireland and has made significant commitments to avoid a hard border.

Full details of the Commission’s assessment are available in the Commission’s Communication on the State of Progress of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, said: “This is a difficult negotiation but we have now made a first breakthrough. I am satisfied with the fair deal we have reached with the United Kingdom. If the 27 Member States agree with our assessment, the European Commission and our Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier stand ready to begin work on the second phase of the negotiations immediately. I will continue to keep the European Parliament very closely involved throughout the process, as the European Parliament will have to ratify the final Withdrawal Agreement.”

Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s Chief Negotiator, said: “The Commission’s assessment is based on the real, genuine progress made in each of our three priority areas. By agreeing on these issues, and settling the past, we can now move forward and discuss our future relationship on the basis of trust and confidence.”

Next Steps: If the European Council (Article 50) considers that sufficient progress has been made, the negotiators of the European Commission and of the United Kingdom Government will begin drafting a Withdrawal Agreement based on Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union on the basis of the Joint Report and the outcome of the negotiations on other withdrawal issues. In line with the Guidelines of 29 April 2017, and once the Member States agree with the Commission’s assessment, the Commission stands ready to begin work immediately on any possible transitional arrangements and to start exploratory discussions on the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom.


On 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union in accordance with Article 50 TEU. On 29 April 2017, the European Council (Article 50) adopted a set of political Guidelines. On 22 May 2017, the General Affairs Council (Article 50) authorised the European Commission to open negotiations with the United Kingdom and adopted directives for the negotiation (the negotiating directives).

Negotiations should be completed by autumn 2018 to allow good time for the Withdrawal Agreement to be concluded by the Council after obtaining consent of the European Parliament, and to be approved by the United Kingdom in accordance with its own procedures before 29 March 2019.

For More Information

Communication from the Commission to the European Council (Article 50)

Joint Report from the Negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government

Joint EU/United Kingdom Technical Table on Citizens’ Rights

European Council Guidelines, 29 April 2017

Council negotiating directives, 22 May 2017

European Council conclusions, 20 October 2017

Remarks by President Juncker at the joint press conference with Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

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. 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.

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.


Remarks by Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s Chief Negotiator, at the press conference on the Joint Report from the Negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government

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.

Et d’abord les droits des citoyens qui ont été depuis le début et qui resteront notre priorité.

4,5 millions de citoyens européens ont décidé de vivre dans un autre Etat membre de l’Union que le leur, sur la base du droit de l’Union qui permet la libre circulation des personnes.

Notre rapport conjoint préserve ces droits et pose pour les préserver plusieurs principes:

  • Premier principe : une application réciproque pour les citoyens de l’UE au Royaume-Uni et pour les Britanniques dans l’UE.
  • Deuxième principe : aucune discrimination basée sur la nationalité.
  • Troisième principe : une date d’échéance (“cut-off date”) fixée à la date du retrait britannique, même si elle pourrait être adaptée dans le contexte d’une possible période de transition.

Au-delà des principes, ce texte comprend des garanties concrètes pour les citoyens des deux côtés de la Manche. Et je voudrais appeler votre attention sur six points :

  1. Tous les citoyens arrivés au Royaume-Uni ou dans l’Union avant le retrait britannique pourront continuer à résider, à travailler, à étudier comme aujourd’hui. Deux exemples :
  • Des infirmières ou des médecins en fonction avant le Brexit pourront continuer à travailler et leurs qualifications professionnelles resteront reconnues.
  • Une étudiante britannique dans un des pays de l’UE ne subira pas les effets du Brexit : elle pourra continuer ses études, payer les mêmes droits d’inscription que les citoyens du pays où elle étudie et même travailler dans ce pays après ses études. Cela vaudra évidemment pour tous les étudiants européens au Royaume-Uni.
  1. Les membres de la famille, comme les époux, les enfants, les parents, les grands-parents, conserveront leur droit à rejoindre leur proche dans le futur, s’ils ne vivent pas au Royaume-Uni aujourd’hui.
  • Tous les enfants auront ce droit, même s’ils naissent après le retrait du Royaume-Uni.
  • Et, naturellement, les membres de la famille d’un Britannique qui vit dans l’UE pourront le rejoindre également.
  1. Les citoyens garderont leur droit aux soins de santé, à la retraite et aux autres prestations de sécurité sociale.
  • Ils pourront recevoir ces prestations même après le Brexit s’ils décident de vivre dans un autre pays de l’UE ou au Royaume-Uni.
  • Cette “exportabilité” inclura toutes les prestations familiales.
  1. Le Royaume-Uni créera une procédure pour obtenir ce qu’il appelle le “UK special status“. Nous devons continuer à en discuter les détails, et je sais la vigilance justifiée du Parlement européen, qui est aussi la mienne, sur ce point. Mais il est déjà clair dans notre rapport conjoint que :
  • Ce système devra être simple d’utilisation, avec les garanties appropriées pour les citoyens qui verraient leur demande rejetée.
  • Les coûts ne devront pas excéder ceux qui sont imposés aux citoyens britanniques pour la délivrance de documents similaires – on me dit que c’est autour de 70 livres.
  • Et enfin un citoyen européen qui est déjà résident permanent au Royaume-Uni obtiendra le “special status” gratuitement.
  • Ces détails qui sont importants pour les citoyens, nous allons les mettre dans le texte de l’accord de retrait lui-même, après les avoir précisés dans les mois qui viennent.
  1. Les droits des citoyens seront garantis par des mécanismes efficaces, ce qui implique aussi une interprétation cohérente de ces droits. Ces principes, qui sont dans notre rapport conjoint, seront précisés et consolidés dans le Traité de retrait lui-même.
  • L’accord de retrait sera incorporé dans le droit britannique. Les justiciables pourront en invoquer les dispositions devant les autorités et les tribunaux britanniques directement.
  • Ce sont les juges britanniques qui diront le droit au Royaume-Uni.
  • Dans leurs jugements, les tribunaux britanniques devront tenir compte de la jurisprudence que la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne rendra après le Brexit.
  • Ils pourront aussi poser – c’est une faculté – une question préjudicielle sur l’interprétation de l’accord de retrait à la Cour de justice pendant une durée de 8 années, ce qui nous paraît un temps réaliste pour construire la jurisprudence dont les citoyens ont besoin quand elle n’existe pas encore.
  • Dans le cas de tels recours préjudiciels volontaires de la part des juges britanniques, évidemment, l’arrêt de la Cour aura le même effet contraignant qu’aujourd’hui sur les tribunaux britanniques.
  • Tout cela reflète naturellement les mécanismes de mise en œuvre disponibles pour les citoyens britanniques dans chaque pays de l’UE.
  1. Le Royaume-Uni créera une nouvelle autorité indépendante pour assurer la bonne application de l’accord de retrait et aider directement les citoyens. Cette instance doit avoir à nos yeux, la Commission l’a rappelé dans la communication qui accompagne ce rapport conjoint et nous y veillerons dans la rédaction du futur traité, un rôle similaire à celui de la Commission européenne pour protéger les droits des Britanniques qui vivent dans l’UE.

Secondly, Ireland

Ireland is in a unique situation, as Prime Minister Theresa May underlined this morning.

The UK and the EU both recognise that Brexit creates a unique challenge on the island of Ireland.

The UK has committed itself to proposing a solution.

We both remain determined to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The UK’s commitment today gives us an effective guarantee to avoid such a hard border.

Unless another solution is found, the UK firmly agreed that Northern Ireland will maintain full alignment with EU internal market and Customs Union rules which support North-South cooperation, the all-island economy, and the protection of the Good Friday Agreement.

The Good Friday Agreement in all its dimensions and North-South cooperation under that Agreement will be protected.

Residents of Northern Ireland who are Irish citizens will continue to enjoy their rights as EU citizens.

The UK has also given the necessary assurances to allow for the continuation of the Common Travel Area.

As you can imagine, ladies and gentlemen, the agreed text is the result of difficult work that we have done together.

Together with the UK, Irish and all EU governments, we will now need to develop creative solutions that work.

Nobody should underestimate the difficulties that we will face on this issue. To succeed, we not only need to be flexible and imaginative – two famous words – but we also need to show a collective sense of responsibility.

For this, it is important that we agreed to maintain a distinct strand of negotiations on Ireland and Northern Ireland in the second phase of talks.

In any case, any solution will need to respect the integrity of the Single Market and the Customs Union – which are at the core of our Union.

Troisièmement, le règlement financier

Nous nous sommes mis d’accord sur une méthodologie qui repose sur trois principes :

  • Aucun Etat membre n’aura à payer davantage ou à recevoir moins à cause du Brexit. Theresa May l’avait dit dans son discours à Florence. Nous le confirmons.
  • Le Royaume-Uni honorera tous les engagements pris durant son membership. Theresa May l’avait également dit dans son discours à Florence. Nous le précisons.
  • Concernant ses obligations, le Royaume-Uni ne paiera ni plus, ni plus tôt que s’il était un Etat membre.

Sur cette base, nous nous sommes mis d’accord :

  • D’abord, sur la liste les composantes du règlement financier ;
  • Ensuite, sur les principes pour calculer la valeur et les paiements ;
  • Troisièmement, sur les conditions de la participation du Royaume-Uni aux programmes du cadre financier pluriannuel en cours 2014-2020, au-delà donc de la date du retrait ;
  • Et enfin nous nous sommes mis d’accord sur les arrangements relatifs à la Banque européenne d’investissement, la Banque centrale européenne, au Fonds européen de développement qui est notre outil de solidarité, en particulier avec l’Afrique, au Fonds pour l’Afrique et à la Facilité pour les réfugiés en Turquie.

Concernant le budget de l’Union de 2014 à 2020:

  • Le Royaume-Uni contribuera aux budgets annuels 2019 et 2020 de l’Union, comme s’il était resté un Etat membre.
  • Il s’engage aussi à financer sa part du reste à liquider et le passif, tels qu’ils seront calculés à la fin de 2020.
  • Le passif éventuel sera quant à lui calculé à la date de sortie du Royaume-Uni de l’Union.

Et donc, Mesdames et Messieurs, tous les engagements pris à 28 seront respectés et honorés à 28.

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Sur nos trois sujets principaux mais aussi sur les autres sujets de la séparation, nous avons fait des progrès que beaucoup jugeaient improbables il y a encore quelques mois.

Au-delà du travail technique et juridique considérable qui a été fait, une des raisons pour lesquelles nous sommes à ce stade aujourd’hui, c’est parce que notre état d’esprit dans cette négociation, des deux côtés, n’a jamais été de faire des concessions entre nous.

  • Il ne s’agissait pas de faire des “concessions” sur les droits des citoyens.
  • Il ne s’agissait pas de faire des “concessions” sur le processus de paix et la stabilité en Irlande.
  • Et il ne s’agissait pas non plus de faire des “concessions” sur les milliers de projets d’investissement dans toute l’Europe, et même parfois au-delà de l’Europe, financés par le budget européen.

Notre volonté commune a été et reste d’organiser le retrait du Royaume-Uni, comme il l’a lui-même souhaité à l’occasion du référendum, mais un retrait ordonné.

Sur la base de cet état des lieux de la négociation et de la recommandation du Collège des Commissaires, que je remercie, le Conseil européen aura donc, sous la responsabilité de Donald Tusk,

  • à déterminer si le progrès sur ces trois sujets est suffisant comme nous le considérons nous-mêmes,
  • à décider, le 15 décembre, des conditions d’une période éventuelle de transition,
  • et enfin à fixer le cadre de la discussion sur la future relation.

De son côté, le Parlement européen, son président Antonio Tajani, son coordinateur, Guy Verhofstadt, que je veux remercier et avec lequel nous avons beaucoup et bien travaillé, aura aussi à faire sa propre évaluation en toute indépendance et à adopter, au cours de sa session plénière de la semaine prochaine, une résolution qui guidera nos travaux.

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Le progrès que nous avons traduit aujourd’hui dans ce rapport conjoint, va nous aider dans la seconde phase des négociations :

En réglant de manière précise les droits des citoyens et la question financière, nous pourrons désormais nous concentrer sur les enjeux de la future relation de manière plus sereine.

En nous mettant d’accord sur des principes politiques s’agissant de l’Irlande, nous allons maintenant travailler sur des solutions techniques dans le cadre de ces principes.

En démontrant que nous pouvons sur une base objective nous mettre d’accord pour solder le passé, nous créons les conditions de la confiance pour négocier l’avenir.

Je vous remercie.


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