BREXIT LATEST NEWS – 14 NOVEMBER

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BREXIT LATEST NEWS - 14 NOVEMBER
14 Nov 2018

BREXIT LATEST NEWS – 14 NOVEMBER

Brexit, Brussels, Brussels Daily

14/11/2018

Brexit:  EU AND UK REACH A DEAL ON TERMS OF WITHDRAWAL AGREEMENT

The negotiators of the European Commission and the United Kingdom have today reached a deal on the terms of the Article 50 Withdrawal Agreement.

All aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement have now been finalised and agreed at negotiator level. This agreement marks a decisive moment in the negotiations. The European Commission therefore recommended to the European Council (Article 50) to find that decisive progress has been made in the negotiations on the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, allowing the negotiations on the withdrawal agreement to be concluded and the next step of the process to be initiated. The negotiators have also agreed on an outline of the political declaration on the future EU-UK relationship.

The Withdrawal Agreement covers all elements of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU: citizens’ rights, the financial settlement, a transition period, governance, Protocols on Ireland, Gibraltar and Cyprus, as well as a range of other separation issues.

The EU and the UK negotiators have agreed on how to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Both will use their best endeavours to have a future agreement concluded before the end of the transition period by 1 July 2020. Should this not be the case, the EU and the UK could jointly extend the transition period. Alternatively, as of January 2021, the backstop solution for Ireland and Northern Ireland would apply, subject to a joint review mechanism.

That backstop solution means that a single EU-UK customs territory will be established, which will apply from the end of the transition period until such a time as a subsequent agreement becomes applicable. Northern Ireland will therefore remain part of the same customs territory as the rest of the UK. The single customs territory covers all goods with the exception of fishery and aquaculture products.

The creation of the single customs territory includes the corresponding level playing field commitments and appropriate enforcement mechanisms to ensure fair competition between the EU27 and the UK.

The outline of the political declaration published today records the progress in reaching an overall understanding on the framework for the future EU-UK relationship. The EU and UK negotiators will continue their work based on the outline.

Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. The present Withdrawal Agreement – including the transition period – must take into account the framework of the future relationship. The political declaration must therefore be further developed and agreed in its final form.

In parallel, the European Commission will continue its preparedness and contingency work for all eventualities.

Next steps

The EU and UK negotiators will continue their work on the political declaration on the framework for the future relationship based on the outline published today. It is up to the President of the European Council to decide whether and when to convene a meeting of the 27 Heads of State or Government. It will be up to the European Council (Article 50) to endorse the Withdrawal Agreement and the joint political declaration on the framework of the future relationship.

Once the Withdrawal Agreement is endorsed by the European Council (Article 50), and before it can enter into force, it needs to be ratified by the EU and the UK. For the EU, the Council of the European Union must authorise the signature of the Withdrawal Agreement, before sending it to the European Parliament for its consent. The United Kingdom must ratify the agreement according to its own constitutional arrangements.

Background

Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union on 29 March 2017 (read more here). Her letter to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, formally began the process of UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Negotiations on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal formally began on 19 June 2017, following the UK’s general election. On 8 December 2017, the EU and the UK published a Joint Report, setting out the areas of agreement between both sides on withdrawal issues. This was accompanied by a Communication by the European Commission. In March 2018, the European Commission and the United Kingdom published a draft Withdrawal Agreement. This document highlighted areas of agreement and disagreement using a green, yellow and white colour-coding. The future relationship between the EU and the UK will be outlined in a political declaration and will only be negotiated once the UK becomes a third country, i.e. outside of the EU, after 29 March 2019.

 

For more information:

Text of the finalised Withdrawal Agreement

Outline of the Political Declaration on the Framework of the Future Relationship

Joint report

Questions & Answers: Brexit Negotiations: What is in the Withdrawal Agreement

Questions & Answers: Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland

READ ALSO

UK GOVERNMENT BREXIT WITHDRAWAL AGREEMENT AND DOCUMENTS

STATEMENT BY MICHEL BARNIER

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT STATEMENT

12/09/2018

Brexit:  General Affairs Council (Art. 50), 18/09/2018

Agenda highlights

The Commission’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, will brief the Council, meeting in EU 27 format, on the Brexit talks with the UK.

Ministers will discuss the state of play of the negotiations, concerning both the completion of the work on withdrawal issues and the discussions on the framework for future relations with the UK.

The Council will also begin preparations for the next meeting of the European Council (Article 50) on 18 October 2018. Ministers will look at the annotated draft agenda for the summit.

All the withdrawal issues need to be covered in the withdrawal agreement, which should be agreed in good time in order to be ratified before the withdrawal date of 29 March 2019. Some parts of the draft withdrawal agreement have already been agreed in principle by the UK and the EU negotiators, although nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

There are still parts of the withdrawal agreement that require further negotiation. One of them is the issue of how to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Other outstanding issues include the overall governance and dispute settlement of the withdrawal agreement, the protection of data and geographical indications.

An agreement on a future relationship can only be negotiated and concluded once the UK has become a third country. However, an overall understanding on the framework for the future relationship will be set out in a political declaration accompanying and referred to in the withdrawal agreement.

12/09/2018

Brexit:  General Affairs Council (Art. 50), 18/09/2018

Agenda highlights

The Commission’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, will brief the Council, meeting in EU 27 format, on the Brexit talks with the UK.

Ministers will discuss the state of play of the negotiations, concerning both the completion of the work on withdrawal issues and the discussions on the framework for future relations with the UK.

The Council will also begin preparations for the next meeting of the European Council (Article 50) on 18 October 2018. Ministers will look at the annotated draft agenda for the summit.

All the withdrawal issues need to be covered in the withdrawal agreement, which should be agreed in good time in order to be ratified before the withdrawal date of 29 March 2019. Some parts of the draft withdrawal agreement have already been agreed in principle by the UK and the EU negotiators, although nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

There are still parts of the withdrawal agreement that require further negotiation. One of them is the issue of how to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Other outstanding issues include the overall governance and dispute settlement of the withdrawal agreement, the protection of data and geographical indications.

An agreement on a future relationship can only be negotiated and concluded once the UK has become a third country. However, an overall understanding on the framework for the future relationship will be set out in a political declaration accompanying and referred to in the withdrawal agreement.

23/08/2018

Brexit: UK Secretary of State Dominic Raab’s speech on no deal planning

Dominic Raab gave a speech on planning for a no deal Brexit

Good morning everyone. Thank you all for coming.

Today, I want to set out the steps we in government and you in business, the public sector and voluntary sector should take, in order that we can make sure the United Kingdom goes from strength to strength.

Even in the unlikely event that we do not reach a negotiated deal with the European Union.

I’m just back from Brussels, after a further round of negotiations with Michel Barnier.

We are stepping up the pace and the intensity of our negotiations, and I am confident a good deal is within our sights.

That remains our top priority.

It remains our overriding priority.

So, before I talk about planning for no deal and the technical notices that we are publishing today, I want to reaffirm what we expect the negotiations to deliver.

A good deal with our EU friends.

One that works in our mutual interests.

And a deal that recognises our shared history and values, but also provides a strong and sustainable foundation for our future relationship.

Speech continues here

23/08/2018

Brexit: UK Secretary of State Dominic Raab’s speech on no deal planning

Dominic Raab gave a speech on planning for a no deal Brexit

Good morning everyone. Thank you all for coming.

Today, I want to set out the steps we in government and you in business, the public sector and voluntary sector should take, in order that we can make sure the United Kingdom goes from strength to strength.

Even in the unlikely event that we do not reach a negotiated deal with the European Union.

I’m just back from Brussels, after a further round of negotiations with Michel Barnier.

We are stepping up the pace and the intensity of our negotiations, and I am confident a good deal is within our sights.

That remains our top priority.

It remains our overriding priority.

So, before I talk about planning for no deal and the technical notices that we are publishing today, I want to reaffirm what we expect the negotiations to deliver.

A good deal with our EU friends.

One that works in our mutual interests.

And a deal that recognises our shared history and values, but also provides a strong and sustainable foundation for our future relationship.

Speech continues here

27/07/2018

Brexit: No withdrawal agreement without a “backstop” for the Northern Ireland/Ireland border

The European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group insist that the withdrawal agreement must include a viable backstop for the Northern Ireland – Ireland border.

The European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group (BSG) has been briefed on the negotiations that have taken place over the last two weeks with the UK Government. The BSG also took note of the statement of the EU Chief Negotiator at the conclusion of last Friday’s General Affairs Council as well as statements made by members of the UK Government last weekend.

Withdrawal Agreement

The BSG reiterates its position that the successful finalisation of a Withdrawal Agreement (WA), providing for the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU, is an essential precondition for negotiating a future deep and special partnership between the EU and the UK, a negotiation which can only take place once the UK is no longer a Member State. We recall also that the transitional arrangements can enter into force only as a part of the Withdrawal Agreement.

Island of Ireland

The BSG reiterates that in relation to the WA it will accept no backsliding from past commitments, notably those entered into in the Joint Report of 8 December 2017. To conclude the WA it is essential, in particular, that it includes a “backstop” for the Northern Ireland/Ireland border.  As recognised by the Prime Minister in her letter to President Tusk of 19 March 2018, the “backstop” must avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, protect the Good Friday Agreement and safeguard the integrity of the single market, customs union and common commercial policy. In this the backstop remains specific to the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland and, in conformity with the terms of Article 50 TEU, cannot establish the terms of the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom.

It is incumbent on the UK that it no longer postpone coming forward with its own, workable and legally operative proposal for a “backstop”. The BSG stresses that without a credible, genuine and operational “backstop”, it will be impossible for the European Parliament to give its consent to the WA.

Future EU-UK relationship

Progress in the finalisation of the WA would facilitate discussion to agree a framework for the future EU-UK relationship. The BSG recalls its longstanding support for the closest possible trade, economic and security partnership, in the form of an Association Agreement, compatible with the principles on the future relationship as set out in European Parliament resolutions, namely the non-divisibility of the four freedoms, the integrity of the single market, the autonomy of the EU legal order and decision making, the safeguarding of financial stability and the need to respect a proper balance of rights and obligations.

The BSG will keep the negotiation process under continuous review. It will reassess the situation prior to the European Parliament’s plenary session in September.

  • Guy Verhofstadt
  • Elmar Brok
  • Roberto Gualtieri
  • Gabriele Zimmer
  • Philippe Lamberts
  • Danuta Hübner

Background

Parliament as a whole will have the final say on the outcome of negotiations when it votes to approve or reject the withdrawal deal, to be finalised in the autumn.

26/07/2018

Brexit: 

Statements by Michel Barnier  and Dominic Raab, UK Secretary of State for Exiting the EU

at the press conference following their meeting.  More information here

24/07/2018

Brexit: Programme: EU-UK Article 50 negotiations, Brussels, 24-26 July 2018

 

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

  • Future relationship

 

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

  • Future relationship
  • Ireland/Northern Ireland
  • Withdrawal Agreement – remaining issues

 

Thursday, 26 July 2018

  • Withdrawal Agreement – remaining issues
  • Principals’ meeting

 

24/07/2018

Brexit: Programme: EU-UK Article 50 negotiations, Brussels, 24-26 July 2018

 

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

  • Future relationship

 

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

  • Future relationship
  • Ireland/Northern Ireland
  • Withdrawal Agreement – remaining issues

 

Thursday, 26 July 2018

  • Withdrawal Agreement – remaining issues
  • Principals’ meeting

 

24/07/2018

Brexit: The future UK-EU relationship

The government has published a White Paper setting out a detailed proposal for a future relationship that works for both the UK and the EU.  Read all about it here

24/07/2018

Brexit:  United Kingdom submits draft schedule to the WTO outlining post-Brexit goods commitments

On 24 July, WTO members received the United Kingdom’s draft schedule setting out its WTO market access commitments for goods once the UK leaves the European Union. Members will now have a three-month period to review the schedule that has been put forward for certification.

The United Kingdom considers this notification to constitute a rectification of its concessions under the WTO, on the grounds that the schedule replicates the concessions and commitments currently applicable to the UK as an EU member. Under this process, known as the “1980 Procedures for modification and rectification of Schedules”, WTO members will have three months to review the schedule, which will be considered to be approved if there are no objections from other members.

More information on WTO goods schedules and the process for modification and rectification of schedules is available here.

18/07/2018

Brexit:  Policy and engagement documents

  1. The Airport Charges (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018

    • Department for Transport
    • Statutory instrument
  2. The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union

    • Department for Exiting the European Union
    • Policy paper
  3. The Trade Barriers (Revocation) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018

    • Department for International Trade
    • Statutory instrument
  4. The European Union (Definition of Treaties Orders) (Revocation) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018

    • Department for Exiting the European Union
    • Statutory instrument
  5. The Friendly Societies (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018

    • HM Treasury
    • Statutory instrument

16/07/2018

Brexit:  UK MUST ABANDON ITS INDEPENDENT TRADE POLICY IN FOOD TO GET A BREXIT DEAL THAT WORKS

IFA President Joe Healy has warned that the British government’s proposals for a UK-EU free trade area while maintaining its own independent trade policy are “seriously flawed and totally unacceptable to Irish farmers”.

Joe Healy said the White Paper confirmed IFA’s grave concerns that the British government could introduce a cheap food policy within the proposed free trade area. This would not only destroy its domestic UK market, but also drag down the EU market with it.

“Those who see the White Paper as representing a solution for frictionless trade, north-south and east-west, are seriously mistaken. I recognise that the UK’s commitments to ongoing harmonisation with EU rules represent a major step forward towards avoiding regulatory checks. However, this doesn’t go far enough. The UK must also abandon its ambition to pursue an independent trade policy in agri-food. Otherwise the proposed UK-EU free trade area would result in the destruction of the CAP and the European model of family farming.”

Joe Healy called on the Irish Government and Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan to confront the UK on its proposals.  “The EU negotiators led by Michel Barnier must be up-front and rule out the UK having an independent trade policy in the area of agri-food at this week’s EU-UK Brexit negotiations.”

The IFA President stressed: “The UK White Paper is explicit that outside the CAP, the UK would have ‘an ability to change tariffs and quotas in the future’ on agri-food products.   This would enable the UK to negotiate its own trade deals with South America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand at prices that would undercut European beef, dairy, pigmeat, lamb and poultry producers. That would destroy the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Irish family farmers and millions across Europe.”

“This is the kind of double-think by the UK that will not work for the EU farming and food sector. No new customs arrangement can achieve frictionless borders unless the UK commits to the EU’s common external tariff and quotas on food imports.”

Joe Healy concluded “IFA’s policy position is very clear: no border on the island of Ireland, no border in the Irish Sea and no scope for the UK to pursue a cheap food policy.”

12/07/2018

Brexit:  The EU-UK withdrawal agreement: Progress to date and remaining difficulties

With the United Kingdom set to leave the European Union in less than one year’s time, negotiations to finalise a withdrawal agreement, as provided for under Article 50 TEU, are coming up against an increasingly tight deadline. Recent progress in agreeing a number of key ‘exit’ issues prompted the decision to begin discussions on the future EU-UK relationship. However, significant challenges still remain before the conclusion of a withdrawal agreement, on which the transition period requested by the UK also depends. This EPRS In-depth Analysis considers the draft withdrawal agreement published by the European Commission on 19 March 2018, as well as the (few) additional points settled in negotiations in the period up to June 2018. It seeks to provide an overview of the main areas already settled by the negotiators, as well as of those areas of persisting difficulty or disagreement. More information here

12/07/2018

Brexit:  The EU-UK withdrawal agreement: Progress to date and remaining difficulties

With the United Kingdom set to leave the European Union in less than one year’s time, negotiations to finalise a withdrawal agreement, as provided for under Article 50 TEU, are coming up against an increasingly tight deadline. Recent progress in agreeing a number of key ‘exit’ issues prompted the decision to begin discussions on the future EU-UK relationship. However, significant challenges still remain before the conclusion of a withdrawal agreement, on which the transition period requested by the UK also depends. This EPRS In-depth Analysis considers the draft withdrawal agreement published by the European Commission on 19 March 2018, as well as the (few) additional points settled in negotiations in the period up to June 2018. It seeks to provide an overview of the main areas already settled by the negotiators, as well as of those areas of persisting difficulty or disagreement. More information here

12/07/2018

Brexit:  Statement by the Brexit Steering Group on UK government White paper

Statement by the Brexit Steering Group on the Chequers Statement of 6 July 2018 and on the White Paper released by the UK Government

The European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group (BSG), chaired by Guy Verhofstadt, met today and had an extensive exchange of views on the Chequers Statement of 6 July 2018, as well as on the White Paper just released by the UK Government.

In a first reaction, it welcomed both the Statement and the White Paper by the UK Government as a step towards establishing a new relationship between the UK and the EU once the UK is no longer a Member State.

In particular, the BSG welcomed that the UK is proposing that the future EU-UK relationship take the form of an Association Agreement. Given this has been the Parliament’s position from the very beginning the BSG agrees with this approach which would place the future EU-UK relationship in all its dimensions – economic, sectoral, security, foreign policy – on a firm footing within a coherent governance structure.

The BSG reiterated that negotiating a new relationship with the UK post-Brexit is conditional on an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU on the basis of a Withdrawal Agreement (WA). It reconfirmed the Parliament’s position expressed in its resolutions that it will not consent to a WA, including a transition period, without a credible “back stop” provision for the Northern Ireland/Ireland border to prevent a hard border and safeguard the integrity of the single market, faithfully reflecting the commitments entered into in the Joint Report of 8 December 2017. It urged the UK Government to clarify its positions on the “back stop” so that the WA can be finalised as quickly as possible.

Other important elements of the WA, including its governance provisions, in particular a credible dispute settlement mechanism, also still need to be agreed. Moreover, regarding the implementation of the WA, the Parliament expects a positive response to its letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid on 3 July 2018 and especially concerning the independent authority and the smooth registration of all EU citizens.

The BSG noted that negotiations on the WA and the framework for the future relationship will continue next week. It recalled its position for the closest trade and economic partnership possible while respecting among others the principles of the non-divisibility of the four freedoms, the integrity of the single market, avoiding a sector-by-sector approach and safeguarding financial stability, the preservation of the autonomy of EU decision-making, the safeguarding of the EU legal order and the balance of rights and obligations which any future EU-UK relationship will need to respect. In this framework there will be, for example, no space for outsourcing EU‘s customs competences.

The BSG stated its readiness to provide its input to the negotiation process at any time over the coming weeks and it will carry out a further assessment of the White Paper in the coming days and weeks.

Guy Verhofstadt

Elmar Brok

Roberto Gualtieri

Gabriele Zimmer

Philippe Lamberts

Danuta Hübner

Background

In its March resolution, the European Parliament considered that an Association Agreement between the EU and the UK could provide an appropriate framework for their future relationship. MEPs insisted that the framework should include consistent governance, with a robust dispute resolution mechanism.

Parliament as a whole will have the final say on the outcome of negotiations when it votes to approve or reject the withdrawal deal, to be finalised in the autumn.

12/07/2018

Brexit:  Statement by the Brexit Steering Group on UK government White paper

Statement by the Brexit Steering Group on the Chequers Statement of 6 July 2018 and on the White Paper released by the UK Government

The European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group (BSG), chaired by Guy Verhofstadt, met today and had an extensive exchange of views on the Chequers Statement of 6 July 2018, as well as on the White Paper just released by the UK Government.

In a first reaction, it welcomed both the Statement and the White Paper by the UK Government as a step towards establishing a new relationship between the UK and the EU once the UK is no longer a Member State.

In particular, the BSG welcomed that the UK is proposing that the future EU-UK relationship take the form of an Association Agreement. Given this has been the Parliament’s position from the very beginning the BSG agrees with this approach which would place the future EU-UK relationship in all its dimensions – economic, sectoral, security, foreign policy – on a firm footing within a coherent governance structure.

The BSG reiterated that negotiating a new relationship with the UK post-Brexit is conditional on an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU on the basis of a Withdrawal Agreement (WA). It reconfirmed the Parliament’s position expressed in its resolutions that it will not consent to a WA, including a transition period, without a credible “back stop” provision for the Northern Ireland/Ireland border to prevent a hard border and safeguard the integrity of the single market, faithfully reflecting the commitments entered into in the Joint Report of 8 December 2017. It urged the UK Government to clarify its positions on the “back stop” so that the WA can be finalised as quickly as possible.

Other important elements of the WA, including its governance provisions, in particular a credible dispute settlement mechanism, also still need to be agreed. Moreover, regarding the implementation of the WA, the Parliament expects a positive response to its letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid on 3 July 2018 and especially concerning the independent authority and the smooth registration of all EU citizens.

The BSG noted that negotiations on the WA and the framework for the future relationship will continue next week. It recalled its position for the closest trade and economic partnership possible while respecting among others the principles of the non-divisibility of the four freedoms, the integrity of the single market, avoiding a sector-by-sector approach and safeguarding financial stability, the preservation of the autonomy of EU decision-making, the safeguarding of the EU legal order and the balance of rights and obligations which any future EU-UK relationship will need to respect. In this framework there will be, for example, no space for outsourcing EU‘s customs competences.

The BSG stated its readiness to provide its input to the negotiation process at any time over the coming weeks and it will carry out a further assessment of the White Paper in the coming days and weeks.

Guy Verhofstadt

Elmar Brok

Roberto Gualtieri

Gabriele Zimmer

Philippe Lamberts

Danuta Hübner

Background

In its March resolution, the European Parliament considered that an Association Agreement between the EU and the UK could provide an appropriate framework for their future relationship. MEPs insisted that the framework should include consistent governance, with a robust dispute resolution mechanism.

Parliament as a whole will have the final say on the outcome of negotiations when it votes to approve or reject the withdrawal deal, to be finalised in the autumn.

12/07/2018

Brexit:  The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union

The United Kingdom will leave the European Union on 29 March 2019 and begin to chart a new course in the world. The Government will have delivered on the result of the 2016 referendum – the biggest democratic exercise in this country’s history. And it will have reached a key milestone in its principal mission – to build a country that works for everyone. A country that is stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking.

The UK Government is advancing a detailed proposal for a principled and practical Brexit. This proposal underpins the vision set out by the Prime Minister at Lancaster House, in Florence, at Mansion House and in Munich, and in doing so addresses questions raised by the EU in the intervening months – explaining how the relationship would work, what benefits it would deliver for both sides, and why it would respect the sovereignty of the UK as well as the autonomy of the EU.  Read all about it here

 

Dominic Raab Statement

SoS, Dominic Raab statement on the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union: 12 July 2018

With your permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a statement about the UK’s future relationship with the European Union.

Let me start by paying tribute to my right honourable friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden, And his Herculean efforts along with my HF the Member for Wycombe and the wider Dexeu team, To get us to this point … … in both the negotiations and the successful passage of the EU Withdrawal Bill. It is a striking achievement.

My RHF is a loss to Government, but I suspect … with the mildest apprehension … a considerable gain to this House.

Shortly, we will publish the government’s White Paper on the UK’s Future Relationship with the European Union. It is a new and detailed proposal for a principled, pragmatic and ambitious future partnership between the UK and the EU, in line with the policy agreed at Chequers last week.

I am placing a copy of the White Paper in the Libraries of both Houses, but let me briefly set out the key proposals.

Mr Speaker, the Government is determined to build a new relationship that works for both the UK and the EU, One grounded in our shared history, But which looks to a bright and ambitious future. A relationship that delivers real and lasting benefit to both sides.

First, Mr Speaker the White Paper confirms that the UK will leave the European Union on 29 March 2019, forging a new way in the world – outside the Single Market, outside the Customs Union.

It safeguards the constitutional and economic integrity of the UK. It reclaims the UK’s sovereignty. And it protects our economic interests, by minimising the risk of disruption to trade.

Mr Speaker, it delivers on the instruction we received loud and clear from the British people – to take back control of our laws, our borders, and our money.

In delivering on this vision, the Government proposes an innovative and unprecedented economic partnership, Maintaining frictionless trade through a new UK-EU free trade area for goods underpinned by a common rule book, Covering only those rules necessary to provide for frictionless trade at the border.

This will support business, And meet our shared commitments to Northern Ireland and Ireland, Avoiding recourse to the so-called ‘backstop solution’.

A key component of this will be our proposal for a Facilitated Customs Arrangement (FCA), a business-friendly model that removes the need for new routine customs checks and controls between the UK and the EU, Whilst enabling the UK to control its own tariffs to boost trade with the rest of the world.

We want a deep and comprehensive deal on services, based on the principles of international trade. Our approach minimises new barriers to service provision, Allowing UK firms to establish in the EU and vice-versa, And it provides for mutual recognition of professional qualifications.

On financial services, we propose a new economic and regulatory approach with the EU that will preserve the mutual benefits of our uniquely integrated markets, While protecting financial stability. And, critically, the autonomy of our own rule-making.

Crucially, our proposals on services provide the UK with regulatory flexibility in the sector… including our dynamic, innovative and digital sectors …. which will, in turn, open up new possibilities in relation to trade with the wider world.

Mr Speaker, as we leave the EU, free movement of people will come to an end. We will control the number of people who come to our country. We will assert stronger security checks at the border. The Government will also seek a reciprocal mobility arrangement with the EU, In line with the approach we intend to take with other key trading partners around the world.

In practice, having ended free movement, this is about enabling firms to move their top talent across border to deliver services, Facilitating travel without a visa for tourism and business trips, And making sure that our students and youngsters, in the UK and EU, Continue to benefit from the educational opportunities in universities, colleges and indeed the rich tapestry of cultural life across the continent.

Next, Mr Speaker, the White Paper addresses Europe’s security, which has and will remain the UK’s security. This is why the Government has made an unconditional commitment to maintain it.

The Government’s proposal is for a new security partnership with the EU to tackle the shared, complex and evolving threats, Enabling the UK and EU to act together on some of the most pressing global challenges.

It is important that the UK and EU can continue operational cooperation on law enforcement and criminal justice to keep people safe across Europe.

Our proposals extend to other areas of cooperation of vital importance to the UK and EU, including the continued protection and exchange of personal data, new arrangements on fishing, and cooperative accords on science and innovation, culture and defence research.

Mr Speaker, when we leave the EU, the European Court will no longer have jurisdiction over this country. At the same time, we need to be able to interpret what we have agreed accurately and consistently, And manage any future bones of contention sensibly and responsibly.

Our proposals provide for proper accountability and the consistent interpretation of UK-EU agreements by both parties. We envisage resolving disputes that may arise through arbitration, Which is fair, balanced and reflective of global practice.

And to provide the foundation for an enduring new relationship, the agreement must be flexible enough to enable us to review and – if necessary – revise its operation over time, in the best interests of this country, As is common in free trade agreements across the world.

Finally Mr Speaker I would like make one thing very clear. We will not sign away our negotiating leverage, or spend taxpayers’ money in return for nothing.

The financial settlement, which was agreed in December – substantially lower than EU demands – was agreed on the basis that it would sit alongside a deep and mutually beneficial future partnership.

We agreed that we would meet our commitments ‘as they fall due’, With ever declining payments over a finite period, which add up to a tiny fraction of what would have been our net contribution.

Both sides have been clear nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. Indeed, that is in keeping with the spirit of Article 50.

There should be a firm commitment in the Withdrawal Agreement requiring the framework for the future relationship to be translated into legal text as soon as possible. And of course if one party fails to honour its side of the overall bargain, there would be consequences for the whole deal.

For our part, today, the UK Government is demonstrating, with good faith, and good will, our ambition and resolve to ensure we build that deep and special partnership, with the publication of this White Paper.

Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister first outlined a blueprint for a deep and special relationship with the EU at Lancaster House, and expanded it further in her speeches in Florence, Munich and at Mansion House.

Those speeches have shaped, and they continue to shape, our negotiations with the EU. I am confident that a deal is within reach, given the success of the Prime Minister and her negotiating team so far.

Most issues under the Withdrawal Agreement have by now been resolved, With a deal in place to secure the rights of over three million EU citizens living in the UK and around a million UK citizens living in the EU. And we have agreed a time-limited implementation period which gives businesses, governments and citizens the certainty to plan their lives, and invest for the future.

We will shortly publish a White Paper on the Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill, setting out how we will give effect to the Withdrawal Agreement in domestic law and demonstrating to the EU that the UK is a dependable negotiating partner, One that will deliver on its commitments.

So Mr Speaker, our discussions with the EU will squarely focus on our shared future. This White Paper sets out how we can achieve that new partnership.

Now, it is time for the EU to respond in kind. We approach these negotiations with a spirit of pragmatism, compromise and indeed friendship.
I hope, I trust that the EU will engage with our proposals in the same spirit, And I plan to meet Michel Barnier next week to discuss the detail in person.

At the same time, Mr Speaker, the government is preparing, in the event that that spirit of pragmatism and goodwill is not reciprocated.

And on Monday, I spoke with my right honourable friend, the Prime Minister. We agreed to step up our planning for a no-deal scenario, So that the UK is ready for Brexit … no matter what the outcome of these negotiations. It is the responsible thing for a Government to do.

Mr Speaker, this White Paper sets out the right Brexit deal: Delivering on the result of the referendum, taking back control over our money, laws and borders.

Supporting the economy By maintaining a strong trading relationship after we have left.

Ending free movement, Whilst avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, or indeed between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

Restoring the sovereignty of Parliament and the authority of the UK Supreme Court.

Seizing the opportunity to forge new trade deals around the world.

And maintaining cooperation with the EU in many other areas we prize, including security co-operation to keep our people safe.

This is our vision for a bold, ambitious and innovative new partnership with the EU. Principled and practical, Faithful to the referendum,

It delivers a deal that is good for the UK, and good for our EU friends,
And I commend this statement and the White Paper to the House.

12/07/2018

Brexit:  The European Communities (Designation Orders) (Revocation) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018

Statutory instrument

The European Communities (Designation Orders) (Revocation) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018

Explanatory memorandum

EM The European Communities (Designation Orders) (Revocation) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018

Annex A

Annex A

10/07/2018

Brexit:  Speech by Michel Barnier at the European American Chamber of Commerce

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me first thank the European American Chamber of Commerce, its President James Rosener, and Executive Director Yvonne Bendinger-Rothschild for inviting me.

It is a timely occasion to talk about Brexit.

I am happy to be in the United States to make the European voice on Brexit heard.

After Brexit, with 27 countries, 440 million consumers and 22 million businesses, we will remain a major partner for the US and a global player.

*

Let me now make a few introductory remarks.

1/ I deeply regret, as a politician and a citizen, the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. It is my conviction that we are stronger together.

Brexit will necessarily have a cost.

The United Kingdom has decided to leave the European Union’s Single Market and the Customs Union.

This means that Brexit will create friction to trade that does not exist today.

For various economic sectors, this will have an impact on value chains, which are currently closely integrated across national borders of European countries.

This will impact in particular manufacturing and logistics, as well as the agricultural and food sectors.

The cost of Brexit will be substantially higher for the UK than for the EU. But Brexit is clearly a “lose-lose” situation for both.

On both sides of the Channel, businesses, including subsidiaries of US firms, should analyse their exposure to the other side and be ready, when necessary, to adapt their logistical channels, supply chains and existing contracts.

They should also prepare for the worst case scenario of a “no deal”, which would result in the return of tariffs, under WTO rules.

The “no deal” is not our objective. By the way, you do not need a negotiator for no deal. We are negotiating to avoid the “no deal”, but it still cannot be excluded.

Our objective is to reach an agreement by October on the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU. This would allow proper time for the British and European Parliaments to vote on the Withdrawal Agreement before the UK actually leaves the EU on 29 March 2019.

 

 

speech continued

2/ Over the last few months, we have made progress in the negotiations, as you can see in this draft Withdrawal Agreement which we have published – more or less 80%. In particular:

We reached a deal to protect 4.5 million European citizens in the UK and British nationals in the EU.

We agreed that all decisions taken at 28 will be financed at 28.

We agreed on a transition period of 21 months during which the economic status quo between the EU and the UK will be maintained. It will give business more time to adapt.

However, a number of major issues remain open.

In particular, we need to find solutions for the difficult issue of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Historically, alongside other partners such as the US, the EU has played an important role in supporting the peace process in Ireland.

And a key feature of the peace process was to make the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland invisible.

This was facilitated obviously by the fact that both Ireland and Northern Ireland were part of the EU.

We need to avoid a hard border and the UK has committed to this.

As the same time we need to protect the EU’s external border to preserve the integrity of our market.

***

3/ We want an ambitious future relationship with the UK – not only in trade, but also in police and judicial cooperation and foreign policy, security and defence.

However, the basis for such cooperation between the UK and the 27 EU countries will necessarily be different.

Therefore, the level of integration will have to be lower than it is today.

Because what the Single Market creates is the most developed form of free trade among sovereign countries. It is as close as it gets to a domestic market.

*

Since we are in New York, only a few miles away from Wall Street, let me take the example of financial services.

Within the EU Single Market, companies established in the UK can provide their services across the entire European Union – we call it “passporting”.

Many US financial institutions decided to establish their European hub in London to have these passporting rights and to be able to service clients across Europe.

This is made possible by the EU Single Market, where EU countries are bound by a common framework, and in particular:

By a single rulebook, which we have reviewed following the financial crisis to increase the resilience of our financial institutions and markets. In doing so, we have implemented the G20 roadmap, just as the US did with the Dodd-Franck Act.

By coordinating or centralising supervision of this single rulebook for banks, insurance companies and financial markets.

By ensuring the uniform interpretation of the single rulebook by the European Court of Justice.

Outside of this common “ecosystem” of regulation, supervision and enforcement, there can be no passporting. The UK has recognised this point, in Ms. May’s Mansion House speech.

But the UK still wants continuity. It would want the EU to accept UK standards by means of a system of mutual recognition.

The UK needs to understand that the EU cannot accept such mutual market access without all the safeguards that underpin it.

This would go against all our objectives:

  • First, ensuring financial stability,
  • Second, protecting investors,
  • Third, securing market integrity
  • And fourth, maintaining a level playing field.

These objectives would not be reached if financial institutions could passport in the EU and serve clients based on a licence by the supervisors of a third country.

I do not know of any country in the world that would accept such a loss of sovereignty.

***

Ladies and gentlemen,

That being said, I think that we should have a close relationship with the UK, also in financial services.

This is our common interest.

I see a number of ways to achieve this.

First, the EU Single Market is open to third countries, in general, to the US, and also to the UK. And it will remain so.

In the EU, free movement of capital is open to third countries.

As regards market access to provide financial services, the European Council made clear that our future Free Trade Agreement with the UK should include the right of establishment, with EU rules applying.

Secondly, the EU has a long history of relying on the regulation and supervision of third countries.

This is what the G20 calls deference, what you call in the US substituted compliance, and what we call in the EU equivalence.

To date, the EU has adopted more than 200 so-called equivalence decisions covering more than 30 foreign jurisdictions, including of course the US. This integrates financial markets and facilitates the work of financial operators in the EU and the foreign jurisdiction.

Today, to be very clear, we are in the EU the most open jurisdiction in the world for financial services.

Why would this equivalence system, which works well, including for the US industry, not work for the UK? Why?

Thirdly, in order to draw lessons from the financial crisis and limit the risks in the future, EU countries collectively developed more effective financial regulation and supervision.

And we were very happy to do this hand-in-hand with the UK.

I can personally testify it: for five years, I was in charge of financial services for the Commission and all these regulations, but two – short selling and banker bonuses – have been adopted in full agreement with the UK.

We need to keep this joint regulatory effort in mind, and be ready to exchange our ideas for future rules in the context of close and voluntary regulatory cooperation.

Here also, we have a regulatory dialogue with the US. We could build on this experience with the UK.

Fourthly, we will of course cooperate with the UK – as we do with the US – in international fora such as the Financial Stability Board and the Basel committee.

The world of finance is global and interdependent. We have a mutual interest in working together, not separately.

***

Ladies and gentlemen,

One thing is clear: we will not change who we are as the European Union because the UK is leaving.

The EU is and will remain the most open market in the world.

No other jurisdiction operates a framework that is more open, comprehensive and rules-based for foreign jurisdictions.

US companies are well aware of this. Many of them have been able to take a leading role in EU markets.

Open markets for financial services are an asset for the EU and will remain so in the future.

Thank you for your attention.

07/07/2018

Brexit:  Theresa May’s Brexit Deal for Britain

07/07/2018

Brexit: CHEQUERS OUTCOME SHOWS SOME MOVEMENT BY UK GOVERNMENT BUT ALSO UNACCEPTABLE DOUBLE-THINK

Commenting on the outcome of the Chequers meeting, IFA President Joe Healy said, “While there are some signs of movement by the British government on agriculture and food issues, the UK statement falls far short of the commitments and clarity required by Irish and EU farmers.

“We will need to see the detail of the UK white paper due next week to make a full assessment of the UK’s position.”

“The statement from Chequers once again includes a generous helping of double-think by the UK in wanting to have their cake and eat it, which is unacceptable.

“The proposed Facilitated Customs Arrangement and EU-UK Free Trade Area, under which the UK would control its own tariffs and trade with the rest of the world, will not work for agriculture and food. It would allow the UK to open the floodgates to cheap food imports, for example Brazilian beef, that would not only destroy the UK market for Irish farmers but would also wreak havoc across the entire EU market.

“It is also not consistent with the UK commitment in last December’s Joint Report to maintain full alignment with the EU rules which support the all island economy and the Good Friday Agreement.”

“The UK offer to make ‘an upfront choice to commit by treaty to ongoing harmonisation with EU rules’ on goods including agri-food is a positive step as far as it goes. But what’s the value of a UK treaty commitment if the Westminster Parliament can opt out whenever it wants?”

Joe Healy said that IFA would measure the UK offer against the need to maintain the integrity of the customs union and single market. “IFA is clear that there can be no room for fudged commitments.”

Joe Healy said “IFA’s position is: no border on the island of Ireland, no border in the Irish Sea and no scope for the UK to pursue a cheap food policy. That means that the UK must apply the EU’s common external tariff and tariff rate quotas which limit the import volumes of agricultural and food products.”

06/07/2018

Brexit: Withdrawal Bill updated

Information about the Withdrawal Bill

06/07/2018

Brexit: Theresa May’s words following Chequers

Prime Minister Theresa May said:

Today in detailed discussions the Cabinet has agreed our collective position for the future of our negotiations with the EU.

Our proposal will create a UK – EU free trade area which establishes a common rule book for industrial goods and agricultural products. This maintains high standards in these areas, but we will also ensure that no new changes in the future take place without the approval of our Parliament.

As a result, we avoid friction in terms of trade, which protects jobs and livelihoods, as well as meeting our commitments in Northern Ireland.

We have also agreed a new business-friendly customs model with freedom to strike new trade deals around the world.

Next week we will be publishing a white paper which will set out more details of how we will be taking back control of our money, laws and borders.

Now we must all move at pace to negotiate our proposal with the EU to deliver the prosperous and secure future all our people deserve.

 

More information here

29/06/2018

Brexit: Agenda European Council (Art.50), 29/06/2018

Agenda highlights

The European Council (Article 50), meeting in an EU 27 format, is expected to take stock of the progress made so far in the Brexit negotiations. The Commission’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, will update the EU27 heads of state or government on the state of play of the talks.

The leaders will focus on the following topics:

  • completion of work on withdrawal issues
  • issues related to the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland
  • discussions on the framework for the future relationship with the UK

29/06/2018

Brexit: Agenda European Council (Art.50), 29/06/2018

Agenda highlights

The European Council (Article 50), meeting in an EU 27 format, is expected to take stock of the progress made so far in the Brexit negotiations. The Commission’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, will update the EU27 heads of state or government on the state of play of the talks.

The leaders will focus on the following topics:

  • completion of work on withdrawal issues
  • issues related to the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland
  • discussions on the framework for the future relationship with the UK

26/06/2018

Brexit: Main Results General Affairs Council (Art. 50) below.  Full results available here

The Council, in EU27 format, was briefed by the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier on the state of play in the Brexit negotiations with a focus on the next steps.

Ministers made comments on the progress and the next steps on the remaining topics, including the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and on the framework for the future relationship with the UK.

Ministers also examined the draft conclusions to be adopted by the European Council (Article 50) on Friday 29 June 2018. The Heads of State or Government will take stock of progress in the negotiations. Leaders are expected to highlight the importance of advancing on all remaining issues, including the border with Northern Ireland; of receiving workable and realistic proposals from the United Kingdom on the future relationship; and of working on preparedness.

With March 2019 quickly approaching, we need to find solutions to all remaining issues in a timely manner and in full respect of commitments taken so far. Regarding the framework for the future relationship, we need realistic and workable proposals from the UK as regards its position. The work on preparedness at all levels and for all outcomes must be stepped up.

 

25/06/2018

BREXIT: Council authorises opening of negotiations with WTO members on Brexit-related adjustments

In preparation for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the Council today authorised the Commission to open formal negotiations within the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on how to divide up existing EU tariff rate quotas (TRQs) between the EU27 and the UK.

After Brexit, the EU will continue to apply its scheduled commitments for goods, but its existing quantitative commitments, in particular the TRQs for agricultural, fish and industrial products, will require adjustments to take into account the fact that the EU’s WTO schedule will no longer be applicable to the UK.

In October 2017, the EU and the UK informed WTO members in a joint letter of their approach for apportioning the existing EU tariff quotas and began informal talks with partners. The proposed approach would provide for an apportionment based on an objective methodology reflecting existing levels of market access and trade flows under each TRQ.

Letter from the EU and the UK to WTO members on the apportionment of TRQs

Negotiations with WTO members

In line with the provisions for modifying concessions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT 1994), the EU needs to conduct negotiations on the apportionment of the TRQs with relevant WTO members.

In addition, the UK needs to launch the procedures in the WTO for setting out its own schedule of concessions and commitments before the date on which it ceases to be an EU member state.

These negotiations need to be conducted within a tight timeframe. It is foreseen that the UK will cease to be an EU member state from 30 March 2019, although the withdrawal agreement currently being negotiated is expected to provide for transitional arrangements. These arrangements would provide for international agreements to which the EU is party, such as the GATT 1994, to apply to the UK until 31 December 2020.

EU internal process

In order to take account of a situation where agreements with relevant WTO Members have not been concluded in time, the Commission has also proposed a legislative act which would allow  the EU to proceed unilaterally with the apportionment of the TRQs and to amend the relevant EU provisions accordingly. This legislative proposal will follow the ordinary legislative procedure.

Legislative proposal on the apportionment of the TRQs

 

25/06/2018

BREXIT: Council authorises opening of negotiations with WTO members on Brexit-related adjustments

In preparation for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the Council today authorised the Commission to open formal negotiations within the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on how to divide up existing EU tariff rate quotas (TRQs) between the EU27 and the UK.

After Brexit, the EU will continue to apply its scheduled commitments for goods, but its existing quantitative commitments, in particular the TRQs for agricultural, fish and industrial products, will require adjustments to take into account the fact that the EU’s WTO schedule will no longer be applicable to the UK.

In October 2017, the EU and the UK informed WTO members in a joint letter of their approach for apportioning the existing EU tariff quotas and began informal talks with partners. The proposed approach would provide for an apportionment based on an objective methodology reflecting existing levels of market access and trade flows under each TRQ.

Letter from the EU and the UK to WTO members on the apportionment of TRQs

Negotiations with WTO members

In line with the provisions for modifying concessions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT 1994), the EU needs to conduct negotiations on the apportionment of the TRQs with relevant WTO members.

In addition, the UK needs to launch the procedures in the WTO for setting out its own schedule of concessions and commitments before the date on which it ceases to be an EU member state.

These negotiations need to be conducted within a tight timeframe. It is foreseen that the UK will cease to be an EU member state from 30 March 2019, although the withdrawal agreement currently being negotiated is expected to provide for transitional arrangements. These arrangements would provide for international agreements to which the EU is party, such as the GATT 1994, to apply to the UK until 31 December 2020.

EU internal process

In order to take account of a situation where agreements with relevant WTO Members have not been concluded in time, the Commission has also proposed a legislative act which would allow  the EU to proceed unilaterally with the apportionment of the TRQs and to amend the relevant EU provisions accordingly. This legislative proposal will follow the ordinary legislative procedure.

Legislative proposal on the apportionment of the TRQs

 

19/06/2018

BREXIT: European Commission and United Kingdom publish Joint Statement outlining further progress in Article 50 negotiations

The European Commission and the United Kingdom published today a Joint Statement outlining the progress that has been achieved on the terms of the draft Withdrawal Agreement since the negotiation round that took place on 16-19 March 2018.

The new elements of agreement are set out in detail in points 3 and 4 of the Joint Statement, which also outlines the UK’s engagement on the remaining separation issues.

Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s Chief Negotiator for Article 50 negotiations, said, “Today’s progress is due to the dedication and commitment of both negotiating teams, whom I would like to thank. We have advanced on some separation issues for which European businesses need certainty, such as customs, VAT, Euratom and certificates for goods. Engagement by the UK on remaining issues such as the protection of personal data and geographical indications is also to be welcomed. Serious divergences remain, however, on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. I would like to recall that the Withdrawal Agreement must contain a fully operational backstop solution for Ireland and Northern Ireland. I will present the state of play of the negotiations to the European Council and the European Parliament. Today marks a step forward in these negotiations but a lot more work needs to be done before October.”

Next steps

Michel Barnier will present the state of play of the negotiations to the European Council (Article 50) which takes place on 28 and 29 June 2018, and to the European Parliament. Negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement will continue over the coming weeks, together with the discussions on the framework for the future relationship.

The agenda for this week’s negotiations is available here

Background information

On 28 February 2018, the European Commission published a draft Withdrawal Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom. This draft translated into legal terms the Joint Report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government on the progress achieved during phase 1 of the negotiations, published on 8 December 2017, and proposed text for those outstanding withdrawal issues which are mentioned in, but not set out in detail, in the Joint Report. It also included a draft Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland. Both the EU and the UK have recognised that the unique situation of the island of Ireland requires a specific solution. Both sides have already committed to including a legally operable backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement.

On 19 March 2018, the EU and the UK published an updated version of the Withdrawal Agreement, outlining (in green, yellow, and white) the areas of agreement and disagreement between the negotiators of the EU and the UK.

On 23 March 2018, the European Council (Article 50) welcomed this agreement and adopted guidelines on the framework for the future EU/UK relationship. Discussions on these points are ongoing.

A final version of this Withdrawal Agreement, together with an accompanying political declaration on the framework for the future relationship, should be agreed by the EU and the UK by October 2018 to allow for the timely ratification by the European Parliament, the Council (Article 50) and the UK, according to its own constitutional requirements.

For more information

Joint Statement, 19 June 2018

European Council (Article 50) Guidelines, March 2018

15/06/2018

BREXIT:  UPDATES

These slides summarise the possibilities for involvement of third countries in EU space-related activities.

 

 

Slides on UK technical note on temporary customs arrangement

These slides present an analysis of the ‘Technical Note: temporary customs arrangement’ published by the United Kingdom on 7 June 2018.

11/06/2018

BREXIT:  UPDATES

 

Infographic on the EU’s backstop proposal

This infographic presents a visual summary of the ‘Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland’, which is part of the draft WA published on 19 May 2018

 

 

Slides on UK technical note on temporary customs arrangement

These slides present an analysis of the ‘Technical Note: temporary customs arrangement’ published by the United Kingdom on 7 June 2018.

11/06/2018

BREXIT:  Speech by Commissioner Phil Hogan at Brexit event in Rosslare Port, Ireland

 

Dear friends, it’s great to be here in Rosslare. My thanks to the Irish Hauliers and your very capable President Verona Murphy for organising this event.

Brexit is a bit like an articulated lorry coming over the brow of the hill – we can hear the rumble, the ground is shaking, we know it is going to be big… but we cannot see how it looks or what load it is carrying.

The question we need to be asking is “Are we, here in Ireland, ready?”  Because Brexit is happening to us – even though no-one asked us if we wanted it or not.

And it will happen to us ten months from now. So the challenge is to be as prepared as possible, for as many outcomes as possible – including the worst ones.

There are no winners in Brexit. It is a matter of doing the least amount of damage. We know Brexit is going to give us a knock.  Even on the best assumptions, economic forecasters say it will affect our wages, reduce our overall growth, and pose particular problems for rural areas through its effects on the agri-food sector.

We cannot afford to leave any stone unturned in our preparation. Brexit is mostly beyond our control.  But the heaviness of the blow, and how we respond to it, is very much under our control.  The more we think about it, the more we prepare, the easier it will be for us to shake off the effects and continue to improve our quality of life.

So let us take stock of what we know, and what we still do not know.

First and foremost is the problem of our land border with the UK.

In economic terms the border all but disappeared forty years ago and the island of Ireland has since developed an integrated economy.

And of course in social terms, the Good Friday Agreement built a new foundation of goodwill and cross-border cooperation as the last border posts disappeared.

Now that will change.  We can expect to see, little by little, cross-border arrangements being scaled down and disappearing, with a consequent effect on jobs north and south.  The very worst effect – which would be the reappearance of the hard, visible border that was dismantled by the Good Friday Agreement – has been avoided but this will not prevent economic readjustments.

The UK agreement to keep a soft, invisible border is one of the successes so far of the Brexit discussions.  Although you would not think it to judge from the arguments – most of them in London – about how the soft border should be achieved.

The EU has been clear and consistent on this point from the start.

Unless the UK has a workable alternative that will secure the Union’s external frontier, the soft border will be achieved by maintaining regulatory alignment between Northern Ireland and the EU.  This is the so-called backstop.

The latest episodes of the Brexit reality show have shown us Prime Minister May battling with the mutineers, and the mutineers battling with each other. This means that, less than two weeks out from a key meeting of EU leaders which is supposed to settle this very question, we are no closer to the UK converging around a real, workable solution.

One group prefers a cyber border.  Another group prefers new-look documentation and inspection procedures.  Both groups seem to agree on only one thing – that neither of the two approaches will work!

The European Commission received the UK’s latest proposal for a customs solution last week, and it represents a small recognition by the UK of what they need to prepare in order to convince the EU that they can meet its negotiating mandate around Customs Union.

Hopefully, the UK government is beginning to realise that membership of the Customs Union and regulatory alignment is crucial to resolving many of their own national interests in relation to the future trading relationship with the EU, as well as resolving many of the difficulties relating to the island of Ireland.

As the UK becomes a so-called “third country”, the closer the future trade relationship aligns with the present, the smaller will be the disruption to Ireland’s trade and economy.

At present, the Union is proposing something that is far distant, a free trade agreement like the ones we have with Canada or South Korea.   This is, in effect, dictated by the UK’s red lines.

If they were to change, the Commission could propose something that would be less harmful.

But there is also the unmistakeable sense that the mood is changing in the UK. Public opinion is starting to move, and all recent polling shows the “Remain” side firmly ahead. This is an important change, because well into 2017, the polls showed a majority still in favour of Brexit.

British business is raising its voice in exasperation at the Government’s lack of a plan.

 

Speech continued

Ladies and gentlemen,

You have all seen the UK’s customs paper, which we received yesterday.

I welcomed the publication of this paper. It is good to see the UK engaging with us by proposing text.

As I said yesterday, we are examining this paper objectively, looking at three questions:

  1. First: Is this a workable solution to avoid a hard border?
  2. Second: Does it respect the integrity of the Single Market and the Customs Union?
  3. Third: Is this an all-weather backstop?

Allow me to come back to each of these questions, which in turn, raise more specific ones.

1) First: Is this a workable solution to avoid a hard border?

  • The UK recognises that the proposals in its paper cannot qualify as a backstop since the issue of full regulatory alignment is not addressed. I repeat that we need regulatory alignment to avoid a hard border. How do we solve this issue?

2) Second question: Does the UK proposal respect the integrity of the Single Market and the Customs Union?

  • The UK wants to continue benefiting from our free trade agreements. Does that mean that we will have to reopen, renegotiate or even re-ratify our existing agreements in order to keep the UK in our customs territory after the transition?
  • The UK tells us that it wants to avoid any control. How does that fit with the requirements of our VAT system?

3) Third question: Is this an all-weather backstop?

  • The UK calls this arrangement temporary. How does that fit with the need to secure the absence of a hard border in all circumstances?
  • Moreover, we had agreed with the UK on the principle that public authorities and businesses would need to adapt only once to the new situation created by Brexit – only once. Does the temporary nature of the customs arrangement mean that several adaptations will now be needed?

Ladies and gentlemen,

These questions require further discussion. The UK itself recognises that these questions are relevant and difficult.

But let me recall that our backstop provides answers to each of these questions.

It provides specific solutions to the unique situation of Northern Ireland.

The UK is taking a different angle, however. It is looking for a UK-wide solution.

Let me be clear: our backstop cannot be extended to the whole UK.

Why? Because it has been designed for the specific situation of Northern Ireland.

What does it do?

  • On customs, Northern Ireland would form part of our customs territory. What is feasible with a territory the size of Northern Ireland is not necessarily feasible with the whole UK.
  • On regulatory alignment, we have been pragmatic and developed the least disruptive system for citizens and businesses on both sides.

Let’s go back to pragmatism. Checks carried out on ferries are less disruptive than along a 500km-long land border.

In addition, these checks can build on arrangements and facilities which already exist – which already exist – between the rest of the UK and Northern Ireland.

Obviously, behind all these rules, we want to preserve the fluidity and ease of trade and agricultural production on the island of Ireland.

And once again, we need such a solution in the Withdrawal Agreement by autumn.

We will not leave this issue unresolved.

Ladies and gentlemen,

III – My third and last point concerns the future relationship with the United Kingdom.

Following the mandate I received from the European Council in March, and as outlined by the European Parliament in its resolution, we are now discussing the framework for the future relationship, which will include an economic partnership and strategic cooperation in the area of security.

In all the UK papers that we have been receiving until now – which I read carefully with my team – there has been a request to maintain the status quo, a form of continuity, which is paradoxical seeing as the country decided itself to leave the European Union.

The United Kingdom seems to want to maintain the benefits of the current relationship, while leaving the EU regulatory, supervision, and application framework.

When we respond to UK leaders saying that these benefits are not accessible outside the EU system – because of their decision – some people in the UK try to blame us for the consequences of this.

I simply want to say that we will not be swayed, I will not be swayed, by this blame game.

The United Kingdom decided to leave the Union. We respect this democratic decision and we will implement it. The United Kingdom must assume the consequences.

If we want to construct a new relationship, we need a basis of trust. We also need more realism about what is and is not possible.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There are now two weeks left before the June European Council. I hope we will use this time to consolidate and make new progress in this difficult and complex negotiation.

Thank you for your attention.

 

STATEMENT/18/4105

11/06/2018

BREXIT:  Speech by Commissioner Phil Hogan at Brexit event in Rosslare Port, Ireland

 

Dear friends, it’s great to be here in Rosslare. My thanks to the Irish Hauliers and your very capable President Verona Murphy for organising this event.

Brexit is a bit like an articulated lorry coming over the brow of the hill – we can hear the rumble, the ground is shaking, we know it is going to be big… but we cannot see how it looks or what load it is carrying.

The question we need to be asking is “Are we, here in Ireland, ready?”  Because Brexit is happening to us – even though no-one asked us if we wanted it or not.

And it will happen to us ten months from now. So the challenge is to be as prepared as possible, for as many outcomes as possible – including the worst ones.

There are no winners in Brexit. It is a matter of doing the least amount of damage. We know Brexit is going to give us a knock.  Even on the best assumptions, economic forecasters say it will affect our wages, reduce our overall growth, and pose particular problems for rural areas through its effects on the agri-food sector.

We cannot afford to leave any stone unturned in our preparation. Brexit is mostly beyond our control.  But the heaviness of the blow, and how we respond to it, is very much under our control.  The more we think about it, the more we prepare, the easier it will be for us to shake off the effects and continue to improve our quality of life.

So let us take stock of what we know, and what we still do not know.

First and foremost is the problem of our land border with the UK.

In economic terms the border all but disappeared forty years ago and the island of Ireland has since developed an integrated economy.

And of course in social terms, the Good Friday Agreement built a new foundation of goodwill and cross-border cooperation as the last border posts disappeared.

Now that will change.  We can expect to see, little by little, cross-border arrangements being scaled down and disappearing, with a consequent effect on jobs north and south.  The very worst effect – which would be the reappearance of the hard, visible border that was dismantled by the Good Friday Agreement – has been avoided but this will not prevent economic readjustments.

The UK agreement to keep a soft, invisible border is one of the successes so far of the Brexit discussions.  Although you would not think it to judge from the arguments – most of them in London – about how the soft border should be achieved.

The EU has been clear and consistent on this point from the start.

Unless the UK has a workable alternative that will secure the Union’s external frontier, the soft border will be achieved by maintaining regulatory alignment between Northern Ireland and the EU.  This is the so-called backstop.

The latest episodes of the Brexit reality show have shown us Prime Minister May battling with the mutineers, and the mutineers battling with each other. This means that, less than two weeks out from a key meeting of EU leaders which is supposed to settle this very question, we are no closer to the UK converging around a real, workable solution.

One group prefers a cyber border.  Another group prefers new-look documentation and inspection procedures.  Both groups seem to agree on only one thing – that neither of the two approaches will work!

The European Commission received the UK’s latest proposal for a customs solution last week, and it represents a small recognition by the UK of what they need to prepare in order to convince the EU that they can meet its negotiating mandate around Customs Union.

Hopefully, the UK government is beginning to realise that membership of the Customs Union and regulatory alignment is crucial to resolving many of their own national interests in relation to the future trading relationship with the EU, as well as resolving many of the difficulties relating to the island of Ireland.

As the UK becomes a so-called “third country”, the closer the future trade relationship aligns with the present, the smaller will be the disruption to Ireland’s trade and economy.

At present, the Union is proposing something that is far distant, a free trade agreement like the ones we have with Canada or South Korea.   This is, in effect, dictated by the UK’s red lines.

If they were to change, the Commission could propose something that would be less harmful.

But there is also the unmistakeable sense that the mood is changing in the UK. Public opinion is starting to move, and all recent polling shows the “Remain” side firmly ahead. This is an important change, because well into 2017, the polls showed a majority still in favour of Brexit.

British business is raising its voice in exasperation at the Government’s lack of a plan.

 

Speech continued

Ladies and gentlemen,

You have all seen the UK’s customs paper, which we received yesterday.

I welcomed the publication of this paper. It is good to see the UK engaging with us by proposing text.

As I said yesterday, we are examining this paper objectively, looking at three questions:

  1. First: Is this a workable solution to avoid a hard border?
  2. Second: Does it respect the integrity of the Single Market and the Customs Union?
  3. Third: Is this an all-weather backstop?

Allow me to come back to each of these questions, which in turn, raise more specific ones.

1) First: Is this a workable solution to avoid a hard border?

  • The UK recognises that the proposals in its paper cannot qualify as a backstop since the issue of full regulatory alignment is not addressed. I repeat that we need regulatory alignment to avoid a hard border. How do we solve this issue?

2) Second question: Does the UK proposal respect the integrity of the Single Market and the Customs Union?

  • The UK wants to continue benefiting from our free trade agreements. Does that mean that we will have to reopen, renegotiate or even re-ratify our existing agreements in order to keep the UK in our customs territory after the transition?
  • The UK tells us that it wants to avoid any control. How does that fit with the requirements of our VAT system?

3) Third question: Is this an all-weather backstop?

  • The UK calls this arrangement temporary. How does that fit with the need to secure the absence of a hard border in all circumstances?
  • Moreover, we had agreed with the UK on the principle that public authorities and businesses would need to adapt only once to the new situation created by Brexit – only once. Does the temporary nature of the customs arrangement mean that several adaptations will now be needed?

Ladies and gentlemen,

These questions require further discussion. The UK itself recognises that these questions are relevant and difficult.

But let me recall that our backstop provides answers to each of these questions.

It provides specific solutions to the unique situation of Northern Ireland.

The UK is taking a different angle, however. It is looking for a UK-wide solution.

Let me be clear: our backstop cannot be extended to the whole UK.

Why? Because it has been designed for the specific situation of Northern Ireland.

What does it do?

  • On customs, Northern Ireland would form part of our customs territory. What is feasible with a territory the size of Northern Ireland is not necessarily feasible with the whole UK.
  • On regulatory alignment, we have been pragmatic and developed the least disruptive system for citizens and businesses on both sides.

Let’s go back to pragmatism. Checks carried out on ferries are less disruptive than along a 500km-long land border.

In addition, these checks can build on arrangements and facilities which already exist – which already exist – between the rest of the UK and Northern Ireland.

Obviously, behind all these rules, we want to preserve the fluidity and ease of trade and agricultural production on the island of Ireland.

And once again, we need such a solution in the Withdrawal Agreement by autumn.

We will not leave this issue unresolved.

Ladies and gentlemen,

III – My third and last point concerns the future relationship with the United Kingdom.

Following the mandate I received from the European Council in March, and as outlined by the European Parliament in its resolution, we are now discussing the framework for the future relationship, which will include an economic partnership and strategic cooperation in the area of security.

In all the UK papers that we have been receiving until now – which I read carefully with my team – there has been a request to maintain the status quo, a form of continuity, which is paradoxical seeing as the country decided itself to leave the European Union.

The United Kingdom seems to want to maintain the benefits of the current relationship, while leaving the EU regulatory, supervision, and application framework.

When we respond to UK leaders saying that these benefits are not accessible outside the EU system – because of their decision – some people in the UK try to blame us for the consequences of this.

I simply want to say that we will not be swayed, I will not be swayed, by this blame game.

The United Kingdom decided to leave the Union. We respect this democratic decision and we will implement it. The United Kingdom must assume the consequences.

If we want to construct a new relationship, we need a basis of trust. We also need more realism about what is and is not possible.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There are now two weeks left before the June European Council. I hope we will use this time to consolidate and make new progress in this difficult and complex negotiation.

Thank you for your attention.

 

STATEMENT/18/4105

08/06/2018

BREXIT:   Press statement by Michel Barnier following this week’s round of negotiations

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.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I – First, a few words on this week’s work and on the separation topics.

We progressed over the past days on a certain number of subjects linked to the orderly withdrawal. These are called “other separation issues”.

We think that these subjects can be resolved before the next European Council, which means that, in the document you know well, we will probably change some yellow parts into green and some white parts into green.

Each of these subjects is obviously important to provide legal certainty where there is currently no legal certainty because of Brexit.

But there is a lot of work to be done on the three other separation issues, which are important, even very serious, for our businesses and citizens:

  • The protection of the personal data of EU citizens. We want that the data that has already been exchanged remains protected as it is today.
  • The protection of geographical indications, on which we still do not have any UK position. This subject is important for a lot of producers, for consumers, as much in the UK as in the 27 other countries of the European Union.
  • The infringement and administrative procedures concerning the UK which will be ongoing at the end of the transition, for example in the area of state aid. This is not a bureaucratic point. This is a point which concerns the financial interests of the Union.

Beyond these three points – on which we have worked a lot – there remain two major points of divergence:

  • The governance of the Withdrawal Agreement. I won’t elaborate further on this point today because I spoke at length on this a few days ago in Lisbon.
  • And obviously questions related to Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Ladies and gentlemen,

II – On Ireland and Northern Ireland, we also worked this week with the UK team on two important elements.

First, regulatory alignment.

This is about very concrete subjects: goods, agriculture, electricity, certain parts of environmental policy.

On these subjects, I would like to call for pragmatism from all sides, as I did recently during my trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland. On these concrete everyday topics, we need common rules to preserve the free movement of goods on the island and to preserve and encourage North-South cooperation.

During this visit – a month ago – everywhere I went, from Dundalk, to Newry, Derry-Londonderry and Dungannon, I was very interested to meet groups of farmers, businesses, young people, and women, who all told me the same thing. They told me about the importance of being able to circulate and move freely. And this is what we want to preserve in the agreement.

It is in Northern Ireland’s interest also to keep the same rules in these areas, and to avoid new barriers to the daily exchanges on the island.

It is in the interest of the farmers in Ireland and Northern Ireland that the same sanitary and phytosanitary rules apply, as is the case today.

The second points of discussions on Ireland and Northern Ireland this week concerned customs.

Speech continued

The Freight Transport Association declared this week that the government’s inaction has put Britain on a “road to nowhere” and that businesses are on the brink of being “destroyed”.

Throughout the UK, including in Northern Ireland, businesses are making contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit, openly speaking about the damage that will be done to jobs and growth.

In response, the British Parliament – including an ebullient House of Lords – has assumed the role of the grown-up in the room, given the Conservative government’s abject failure to do so.

The tide is finally starting to go out on the High Priests of Brexit, and not before time.

Arch-Brexiteers like Nigel Farage and Michael Gove are disowning their pre-referendum promises of a land of milk and honey, and a sense of panic is setting in among them that the British public is finally seeing through their deception and lies.

Calls are growing for some form of “people’s referendum” on the final Brexit deal, if there is one. There is still a lot of ball to be played.

Mrs May’s dilemma is that she has to disappoint one group or the other within her own party.

She is trying to find a middle way – agreements on border management and future trade that will be acceptable to all.  There are no signs that such a middle way exists.

She will have to choose.  And there is still a real danger is that it will be the Rees-Mogg mutineers who will triumph.

They have controlled the narrative for 2 years now, but they sense that their time is running out, and they will try every trick in the book to keep the good ship Britannia steering towards a hard Brexit, even though the ship is full of leaks and the crew is hiding below deck.

With so much uncertainty still clouding the picture, economic operators in Ireland have to examine every possible Brexit scenario and identify the pitfalls and possibilities.

The EU is ready for the worst.  It will not be surprised by a UK non-decision to crash out because the mutineers succeed in running down the clock.  It is prepared in case the most painful Brexit becomes a reality.

The European Commission has been sending out this message loud and clear. President Juncker, acting on instructions from the EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, has engaged the Commission’s Secretariat General to issue 60 “preparedness notices” to key stakeholders.

For example, a preparedness notices was sent to stakeholders in the maritime transport sector covering vital issues such as: intra-union shipping services and third country traffic, maritime cabotage, maritime safety, port state control, operations of passenger ships, and the safety of fishing vessels.

And we must give credit to the Irish government for their work. If ever there was a time for all politicians, public servants and civil society to put on the “green jersey,” this is it, and all parties have risen to the occasion.

In relation to ports, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has held a number of workshops with Maritime and other transport sectors on preparing for the possible impacts of Brexit on the sector.

Ports and shipping companies are exploring the feasibility of new shipping routes directly to Europe in the context of Brexit.

New initiatives have already being taken to enhance direct routes to Europe, with larger vessels which will have increased capacity.

Shipping companies are market driven and will respond to changing demands regarding direct routes to Europe.

The key state agencies, Revenue, Customs and Agriculture are also actively engaging with the Ports to prepare at this stage, as far as possible, for the potential implications of Brexit.

The Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) in conjunction with DTTAS has been undertaking a study into the use of the UK landbridge by Irish importers and exporters.

The purpose of this research is to establish the volume of traffic using the UK landbridge at present, the likely consequences that Brexit will have on landbridge usage and the various alternative options that may be viable. This piece of research is being finalised at present and is expected to be completed shortly.

On the Common Transit Convention, the UK has signalled its intention to join the Common Transit Convention – Ireland welcomes this move but further work would still be required in relation to the UK landbridge.

And I understand that Iarnród Éireann is completing a commercial review of Rosslare Europort and is currently in the process of preparing a detailed business plan for the port, to include consideration of the implications of Brexit.

I urge you to build on this foundation and continue planning ahead for Rosslare.  Are you ready to trade with Britain as a third country?  How can you maximise your commercial and economic opportunities in shipping directly to France, giving our road hauliers the chance to avoid possible bottlenecks at UK ports?

A new round of seven-year EU regional policy programmes will need to be prepared in the next year or so, to run from 2021 to 2026.  Are you ready to take advantage of the funding opportunities?

Brexit is ten months away.  We will be helped by the proposal for a transition period until the end of 2020, which will keep things as they are for a little longer.  We are all well advised to use all the time we have for action.  But, bearing in mind the scale of what we are talking about, let us keep one thing in mind: time is short. Thank you.

 

08/06/2018

BREXIT:   Press statement by Michel Barnier following this week’s round of negotiations

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.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I – First, a few words on this week’s work and on the separation topics.

We progressed over the past days on a certain number of subjects linked to the orderly withdrawal. These are called “other separation issues”.

We think that these subjects can be resolved before the next European Council, which means that, in the document you know well, we will probably change some yellow parts into green and some white parts into green.

Each of these subjects is obviously important to provide legal certainty where there is currently no legal certainty because of Brexit.

But there is a lot of work to be done on the three other separation issues, which are important, even very serious, for our businesses and citizens:

  • The protection of the personal data of EU citizens. We want that the data that has already been exchanged remains protected as it is today.
  • The protection of geographical indications, on which we still do not have any UK position. This subject is important for a lot of producers, for consumers, as much in the UK as in the 27 other countries of the European Union.
  • The infringement and administrative procedures concerning the UK which will be ongoing at the end of the transition, for example in the area of state aid. This is not a bureaucratic point. This is a point which concerns the financial interests of the Union.

Beyond these three points – on which we have worked a lot – there remain two major points of divergence:

  • The governance of the Withdrawal Agreement. I won’t elaborate further on this point today because I spoke at length on this a few days ago in Lisbon.
  • And obviously questions related to Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Ladies and gentlemen,

II – On Ireland and Northern Ireland, we also worked this week with the UK team on two important elements.

First, regulatory alignment.

This is about very concrete subjects: goods, agriculture, electricity, certain parts of environmental policy.

On these subjects, I would like to call for pragmatism from all sides, as I did recently during my trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland. On these concrete everyday topics, we need common rules to preserve the free movement of goods on the island and to preserve and encourage North-South cooperation.

During this visit – a month ago – everywhere I went, from Dundalk, to Newry, Derry-Londonderry and Dungannon, I was very interested to meet groups of farmers, businesses, young people, and women, who all told me the same thing. They told me about the importance of being able to circulate and move freely. And this is what we want to preserve in the agreement.

It is in Northern Ireland’s interest also to keep the same rules in these areas, and to avoid new barriers to the daily exchanges on the island.

It is in the interest of the farmers in Ireland and Northern Ireland that the same sanitary and phytosanitary rules apply, as is the case today.

The second points of discussions on Ireland and Northern Ireland this week concerned customs.

Speech continued

Ladies and gentlemen,

You have all seen the UK’s customs paper, which we received yesterday.

I welcomed the publication of this paper. It is good to see the UK engaging with us by proposing text.

As I said yesterday, we are examining this paper objectively, looking at three questions:

  1. First: Is this a workable solution to avoid a hard border?
  2. Second: Does it respect the integrity of the Single Market and the Customs Union?
  3. Third: Is this an all-weather backstop?

Allow me to come back to each of these questions, which in turn, raise more specific ones.

1) First: Is this a workable solution to avoid a hard border?

  • The UK recognises that the proposals in its paper cannot qualify as a backstop since the issue of full regulatory alignment is not addressed. I repeat that we need regulatory alignment to avoid a hard border. How do we solve this issue?

2) Second question: Does the UK proposal respect the integrity of the Single Market and the Customs Union?

  • The UK wants to continue benefiting from our free trade agreements. Does that mean that we will have to reopen, renegotiate or even re-ratify our existing agreements in order to keep the UK in our customs territory after the transition?
  • The UK tells us that it wants to avoid any control. How does that fit with the requirements of our VAT system?

3) Third question: Is this an all-weather backstop?

  • The UK calls this arrangement temporary. How does that fit with the need to secure the absence of a hard border in all circumstances?
  • Moreover, we had agreed with the UK on the principle that public authorities and businesses would need to adapt only once to the new situation created by Brexit – only once. Does the temporary nature of the customs arrangement mean that several adaptations will now be needed?

Ladies and gentlemen,

These questions require further discussion. The UK itself recognises that these questions are relevant and difficult.

But let me recall that our backstop provides answers to each of these questions.

It provides specific solutions to the unique situation of Northern Ireland.

The UK is taking a different angle, however. It is looking for a UK-wide solution.

Let me be clear: our backstop cannot be extended to the whole UK.

Why? Because it has been designed for the specific situation of Northern Ireland.

What does it do?

  • On customs, Northern Ireland would form part of our customs territory. What is feasible with a territory the size of Northern Ireland is not necessarily feasible with the whole UK.
  • On regulatory alignment, we have been pragmatic and developed the least disruptive system for citizens and businesses on both sides.

Let’s go back to pragmatism. Checks carried out on ferries are less disruptive than along a 500km-long land border.

In addition, these checks can build on arrangements and facilities which already exist – which already exist – between the rest of the UK and Northern Ireland.

Obviously, behind all these rules, we want to preserve the fluidity and ease of trade and agricultural production on the island of Ireland.

And once again, we need such a solution in the Withdrawal Agreement by autumn.

We will not leave this issue unresolved.

Ladies and gentlemen,

III – My third and last point concerns the future relationship with the United Kingdom.

Following the mandate I received from the European Council in March, and as outlined by the European Parliament in its resolution, we are now discussing the framework for the future relationship, which will include an economic partnership and strategic cooperation in the area of security.

In all the UK papers that we have been receiving until now – which I read carefully with my team – there has been a request to maintain the status quo, a form of continuity, which is paradoxical seeing as the country decided itself to leave the European Union.

The United Kingdom seems to want to maintain the benefits of the current relationship, while leaving the EU regulatory, supervision, and application framework.

When we respond to UK leaders saying that these benefits are not accessible outside the EU system – because of their decision – some people in the UK try to blame us for the consequences of this.

I simply want to say that we will not be swayed, I will not be swayed, by this blame game.

The United Kingdom decided to leave the Union. We respect this democratic decision and we will implement it. The United Kingdom must assume the consequences.

If we want to construct a new relationship, we need a basis of trust. We also need more realism about what is and is not possible.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There are now two weeks left before the June European Council. I hope we will use this time to consolidate and make new progress in this difficult and complex negotiation.

Thank you for your attention.

 

STATEMENT/18/4105

07/06/2018

BREXIT:   Technical note on temporary customs arrangement

This document sets out the UK’s proposal for a ‘backstop’ customs arrangement between the UK and EU.

Technical note: temporary customs arrangement

 

07/06/2018

BREXIT:   Technical note on temporary customs arrangement

This document sets out the UK’s proposal for a ‘backstop’ customs arrangement between the UK and EU.

Technical note: temporary customs arrangement

 

06/06/2018

BREXIT:   Withdrawal Bill

Information about the Withdrawal Bill, which is designed to ensure that the UK exits the EU with maximum certainty, continuity and control

Documents

 

PDF, 135KB, 3 pages

 

PDF, 148KB, 4 pages

 

PDF, 117KB, 3 pages

 

PDF, 128KB, 2 pages

 

PDF, 143KB, 6 pages

 

PDF, 128KB, 2 pages

 

PDF, 148KB, 4 pages

 

PDF, 134KB, 3 pages

 

PDF, 125KB, 2 pages

 

PDF, 149KB, 5 pages

 

PDF, 156KB, 10 pages

 

 

 

 

PDF, 204KB, 14 pages

 

 

PDF, 164KB, 21 pages

 

PDF, 718KB, 73 pages

 

PDF, 152KB, 5 pages

 

PDF, 107KB, 3 pages

 

PDF, 99KB, 4 pages

 

PDF, 92.9KB, 3 pages

 

PDF, 135KB, 11 pages

 

PDF, 131KB, 3 pages

 

PDF, 183KB, 8 pages

 

PDF, 119KB, 3 pages

 

PDF, 125KB, 4 pages

 

PDF, 222KB, 9 pages

 

PDF, 183KB, 7 pages

 

PDF, 367KB, 8 pages

 

PDF, 395KB, 48 pages

 

PDF, 51.8KB, 2 pages

 

PDF, 136KB, 7 pages

 

PDF, 97.3KB, 6 pages

 

PDF, 361KB, 28 pages

 

PDF, 75.6KB, 2 pages

 

PDF, 534KB, 31 pages

 

PDF, 56.7KB, 2 pages

 

PDF, 86.8KB, 2 pages

 

PDF, 128KB, 5 pages

 

Details

The Bill is designed to ensure that the UK exits the EU with maximum certainty, continuity and control. As far as possible, the same rules and laws will apply on the day after exit as on the day before. This will allow the UK to leave the EU while ensuring that our future laws will be made in London, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff.

For businesses, workers and consumers across the UK that means they can have confidence that they will not be subject to unexpected changes on the day we leave the EU. It also delivers on our promise to end the supremacy of EU law in the UK.

 

 

06/06/2018

BREXIT: House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

The future for food, farming and the environment

 

05/06/2018

BREXIT: EU-UK ARTICLE 5O NEGOTIATIONS BRUSSELS 05-08 JUNE

 

Programme

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

  • Withdrawal Agreement – remaining issues
  • Northern Ireland/Ireland

 

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

  • Withdrawal Agreement – remaining issues
  • Future relationship

 

Thursday, 7 June 2018

  • Withdrawal Agreement – remaining issues
  • Future relationship

 

Friday, 8 June 2018

  • Wrap-up session

 

22/05/2018

BREXIT: Checks and controls that need to be carried out on goods entering, transiting or leaving the customs territory of the European Union

 

Origin: European Commission, Task Force for the Preparation and Conduct ofthe Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 TEU.

 

Objective: Presented at the Council Working Party (Art. 50) on 18 May and to the  European Parliament Brexit Steering Group on 15 May.

 

Remarks: This slide highlights the checks and controls that need to be carried out on goods entering, transiting or leaving the customs territory of the European Union. These controls are carried out by customs authorities,

in close cooperation with other competent authorities, at the external border of the European Union. This slide also shows what checks and  controls are not required if there is a customs union between the EU

and a third country.

18/05/2018

BREXIT: Programme: EU-UK Article 50 negotiations – Brussels, 22-24 May 2018

 

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

  • Withdrawal Agreement – remaining issues
  • Future relationship

 

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

  • Withdrawal Agreement – remaining issues
  • Northern Ireland/Ireland
  • Future relationship

 

Thursday, 24 May 2018

  • Withdrawal Agreement – remaining issues
  • Future relationship

 

Next meetings provisionally scheduled for w/c 4 June

15/05/2018

BREXIT: Michel Barniers’ Slide on the EU-UK Possible Framework for the Future Partnership Discussions. Read all about  it here

 

Remarks: Presented by Michel Barnier, Chief Negotiator, to the General Affairs Council (Article 50) on 14 May and to the European Parliament Brexit

Steering Group on 15 May. The content is without prejudice to discussions on the framework of the future relationship.

 

14/05/2018

BREXIT : Speech by Michel Barnier at the EU Institute for Security Studies conference

“The future of the EU Foreign, Security and Defence Policy post Brexit”

Dear Federica,
Ladies and gentlemen,
General, dear Jorge,
Ambassadors,

Our future partnership with the UK must go beyond trade. The European Union has said this many times before.

It should, in particular, include a strong pillar in foreign, security and defence policy.

So, let me thank the EU Institute for Security Studies for this opportunity today to discuss this future cooperation, together with Federica Mogherini.

Gustav, your institute is the place for creative thinking in foreign policy and security – exactly what we need for this discussion.

***

Back in April 2017, the European Council expressed its readiness to establish a close partnership with the UK in foreign, security and defence policy.

What unites us here is stronger – much stronger – than what divides us.

This was demonstrated after the attack in Salisbury. The EU reacted with a great sense of unity and solidarity with the UK.

10 months from the day of Brexit, our clear sign to the UK and the international community is that the security of the European Union and the UK is bound together.

• There is still a lot of uncertainty. Negotiations on the future with the UK have not started yet. We have had a first exploratory discussion.
• But there should be no uncertainty about our commitment to a future security partnership: security challenges are, by their nature, cross-border.

Solidarity is not to be negotiated. Any trade-off between security and trade would lead to an historic failure – and it would be a strategic mistake, benefiting those who want to weaken us.

We therefore welcome the UK’s commitment to Europe’s security, as restated in the recently published UK paper “Framework for the UK-EU Security Partnership”.

***

In the future, the EU will take decisions on the basis of the interests of the EU27. And it will respect the UK’s sovereignty.

But the EU and the UK’s interests are likely to overlap in foreign, security and defence policy.

As a consequence, I firmly believe that a close partnership is in our mutual interest.

We should join forces and protect our citizens against global threats, such as terrorism – which struck again in Paris this weekend – cyber-attacks or hybrid-threats.

We should join forces and shape the global order:

• We must continue to secure the nuclear deal in Iran together.
• We must work towards a political process to bring an end to the conflict in Syria.
• We will need to work with our African partners to combat poverty and address the root causes of migration.
• We will need to continue our work towards peace in the Middle East and continue to defend a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine. I say this with today’s tragic events in mind.

On these and other foreign policy challenges, the EU must continue to be at the forefront. As a credible but frank partner to the US. And in honest discussions in particular with China and Russia. The EU is a global actor and will remain so after Brexit: it will continue honouring its responsibilities worldwide.

The EU does not act in isolation. It has always favoured multilateral and international cooperation.

And the UK will be one of our most important partners. Not least because of its permanent membership in the UN Security Council.

***

SPEECH CONTINUED

Ladies and gentlemen,

Prime Minister Theresa May said in Munich that the UK as a third country will pursue an independent foreign policy in the future.

But it is also clear that it will be in the UK’s interest to remain close to the values and objectives of the EU’s foreign and security policy. That is why we will keep the door open for close cooperation.

Obviously, post-Brexit, our solidarity will be organised on a different basis. We respect the sovereign decision of the UK to leave the Union.

Yet, being a third country does not mean that the UK cannot have an ambitious partnership with the EU.

This applies in particular to Common Foreign and Security Policy and Common Security and Defence Policy, which are subject to specific rules and procedures.

These EU policies have developed over time in a flexible manner. And we cooperate with many partners.

• More than 25 third countries have participated in EU-led operations.

• The European Defence Agency, dear Jorge, cooperates today with 4 third country partners.

• And Federica has just mentioned a new partnership framework to enhance cooperation with third countries in the field of defence.

While more work is needed to prepare for the UK’s orderly withdrawal, we have begun discussions on our future partnership.

These discussions are based on the guidelines adopted by the European Council in March and include a part on foreign, security and defence policy.

I just showed the Ministers for Foreign Affairs what the architecture could be of the discussions with the UK, based on four pillars: Trade, specific cooperation, internal security and external security. Following the European Council Guidelines, we have to begin now, on an operational basis, this discussion with the UK.

I will work in close cooperation with Federica and her services. And I will, of course, consider the close relationship we already have with partners, such as Norway.

The UK has decided to leave the Union and become a third country. As a consequence, the UK will not have the same rights as EU Member States.

• It will no longer participate in the decision-making of the EU.
• It will no longer have the ability to shape and lead the EU’s collective actions.
• British entities will no longer have the same rights as EU entities.

These are the legal mechanic consequences of Brexit.

And the reality is that political and legal arrangements with a third country cannot be a substitute for all the benefits of EU membership.

But our future partnership could be underpinned by a set of mechanisms – dialogue, consultation, coordination, cooperation, exchange of information.

It could include five dimensions:

1) First, close and regular consultations with the UK on foreign policy.

• A shared assessment of geopolitical challenges will facilitate the convergence and consistency of our external action.
• This will notably be the case for restrictive measures. Dialogue and information-sharing regarding EU sanctions will facilitate the UK’s alignment with the EU.

2) Second, when projecting the EU’s support worldwide, we will be open to the UK’s contribution.

• In development aid, the EU and its Member States are the world’s leading donors.

We are open to contributions from third countries and to local joint programming. We hope that the UK will make use of these possibilities.

• In EU-led operations, it is no secret that the UK’s contribution has been rather marginal so far.

We would of course welcome its participation in EU-led operations in the future, considering that the UK has strategic military assets.

3) Third, in defence matters, the UK should have the possibility – where it will add value – to actively take part in a number of the European Defence Agency’s Research and Technology projects.

• We should, however, keep in mind that industrial cooperation, also in the field of defence, is intertwined with EU rules underpinning the Single Market. This will in particular apply to the European Defence Fund.

4) Fourth, exchanging information on incidents will make us collectively more effective in fighting cyber-attacks.

5) Finally, this future relationship should be underpinned by a Security of Information Agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom.
It will provide for the exchange and protection of classified information. It will facilitate the exchange of intelligence, as mentioned today in Berlin by Andrew Parker, the Chief of MI5.

Ladies and gentlemen,

One word on Galileo. There have recently been many press articles – and many misunderstandings.

The UK decided unilaterally and autonomously to withdraw from the EU. This implies leaving its programmes as well.

So, we need to put the cooperation on Galileo between the EU and the UK on a new basis.

In doing so, our responsibility is to maintain the autonomy of the EU and to protect our essential security interests.

The EU’s rules on Galileo have been in place for a long time, and are well known to the UK.

In particular, third countries (and their companies) cannot participate in the development of security sensitive matters, such as the manufacturing of PRS-security modules.

Those rules were adopted together by unanimity with the UK as a member, and they have not changed.

Those rules do not prevent the UK, as a third country, from using the encrypted signal of Galileo, provided that the relevant agreements between the EU and the UK are in place.

***

Ladies and gentlemen,

The level of ambition of our future partnership will very much depend on the UK’s readiness to commit.

The more the UK converges with EU foreign policy and substantially engages alongside the EU, the closer the cooperation is likely to be.

Of course, some defence and intelligence actions take place outside the framework of the EU, such as in NATO. Bilateral relationships will also continue to develop. And the UK will continue to operate with partners in ad hoc groupings, such as recently in Syria.

Yet, the EU is more than a coalition of the willing.

It is a Union.

• A Union at 27 Member States and of 440 million citizens that provides for stability and certainty in a volatile environment.
• A Union that roots its action in multilateralism, defends and projects values globally and deploys a vast set of instruments.
• A Union that is strong enough to best address current and future challenges.

It seems natural, therefore, that we should build our cooperation together, rather than build it piecemeal. This cooperation should be based on an alignment of foreign policy objectives, rather than short term and ad hoc interests.

***

Ladies and gentlemen,

We will keep the door open to the UK as a third country.

At the same time, our priority is to continue deepening our policies in defence and security.

President Juncker has called for a European Defence Union. President Macron for European sovereignty. Chancellor Merkel for a Union that shapes its own destiny.

The Union is enhancing its ability to act globally, with for example the European Defence Fund, EU space programmes, EU cyber-security centre of excellence. And the Union will continue to develop its partnership with NATO, in the spirit of the joint declaration signed in Warsaw in July 2016.

There is no ideology on the EU’s side. No emotion. No willingness to punish. Never.

But ambition and respect for our rules.

As I said in Berlin last November, our future relationship in the field of foreign, defence and security policy should not be designed through the lens of the past.

Rather it should take into account the geopolitical challenges of tomorrow.

This is the spirit in which we will prepare, for October, the political declaration on the framework for the future relationship– provided that the Withdrawal Agreement is finalised.

Allow me to repeat myself: we are not there yet.

To be clear, if you look at the draft Withdrawal Agreement, 75% of it is in green. This is a good point. The last 25%, which remain, in particular the Irish and Northern Ireland case, are very serious. We are not there yet, but are now working on this future framework, which must be ambitious.

Thank you very much for your attention.

SPEECH/18/3785

08/05/2018

BREXIT : Topics for discussions on the future framework at forthcoming meetings

TOPICS FOR DISCUSSIONS ON THE FUTURE FRAMEWORK AT FORTHCOMING MEETINGS

Basis for co-operation, discussions will include:

  • Structure
  • Governance
  • Interpretation and application
  • Dispute settlement
  • Non-compliance
  • Participation and cooperation with EU bodies

 

Economic partnership, discussions will include:

  • Aims of the economic partnership
  • Goods
  • Agricultural, food and fisheries products
  • Customs
  • Services and investment
  • Financial services
  • Digital and broadcasting
  • Transport
  • Energy
  • Horizontal measures / Level Playing Field
  • Mobility framework

 

Security partnership, discussions will include

  • Aims of the security partnership
  • Law enforcement and criminal justice
  • Foreign, security and defence
  • Wider security issues

 

Cross-cutting cooperation and standalone issues, discussions will include:

  • Data protection
  • Cooperative accords (science and innovation/culture and education)
  • Fishing opportunities

03/05/2018

BREXIT : General Affairs Council (Art. 50) 14 May – Agenda highlights

The Commission’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, will inform the Council, meeting in an EU 27 format, about the state of play of the Brexit negotiations.

Ministers will have the opportunity to discuss the current situation, concerning:

  • completion of work on withdrawal issues, to finalise the draft withdrawal agreement
  • discussions on the EU’s future relationship with the UK, the outcome of which will be reflected in a political declaration

The Council will also begin preparations for the next European Council (Article 50), meeting in June 2018, by examining the annotated draft agenda.

SPEECH CONTINUED

In May last year, when I returned to the border region at Lough Egish, County Monaghan, there was no physical border to be seen.

But, over the last 20 years, the Good Friday Agreement has meant – of course – far more than just removing customs and physical barriers. It removed borders on maps but also in minds.

The Good Friday Agreement created wide-ranging cooperation between North and South, and between communities: from energy and food safety, education and research – for instance here in Dundalk Institute of Technology – to human rights, or the cooperation between young people –as your programme today shows.

All of this was made possible thanks to the open border. All of this should be protected and cherished. So, there is no way back. There is no alternative but to protect this progress. The consequences of Brexit should not and must not lead to the return of a hard border, neither on maps nor in minds.

That is why the EU made Ireland one of the three key priorities, with the citizens’ rights and the financial settlement, right from the start of the negotiations.

And this is why we insist on the need to have a backstop as part of the Withdrawal Agreement.

In December, the UK agreed that, unless and until another solution is found, Northern Ireland will maintain full alignment with the rules of the Single Market and the Customs Union which support North-South cooperation, the all-island economy, and the protection of the Good Friday Agreement.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I know that this backstop was the subject of heated discussions in the UK. I understand that.

So, today I would like to make just three points to avoid any misunderstandings.

1) First, both sides in this negotiation are firmly committed to a backstop. It is a guarantee to avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.

In March, in a letter to the European Council President Donald Tusk, Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed her commitment to including operational legal text on the backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement.

To be clear: without a backstop, there can be no Withdrawal Agreement. This is an EU issue, not only an Irish issue.

I can assure you that Ireland has the full support of all Member States and all EU institutions: the European Parliament, the Council, and the European Commission under President Jean-Claude Juncker and of all Commissioners, not least Phil Hogan.

Solidarity is an essential feature of these negotiations.As is the unity of the 27. And the Taoiseach underlined this eloquently in Leuven last week.

Defence of any Member States’ vital interests is one of the EU’s raisons d’être.

2) My second point is that the backstop is not part of a negotiation strategy. We are not playing tactics with Ireland’s vital interest.

I sometimes hear that, by insisting on a backstop, the EU is taking hostage the future relationship negotiations.

I even read that the EU is trying to get the UK to change its red lines – and stay in the Single Market and/or a customs union. Or even to reverse Brexit.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is wrong. The backstop is not there to changethe UK’s red lines. It is there because of the UK’s red lines.

The UK’s decision to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union creates a risk that the hard border will return. This is why it is necessary to have a self-standing backstop solution. To be clear, once again the backstop was drafted in full respect of the UK’s red lines.

Ladies and gentlemen,

3) My third point is that the backstop is needed in order to respect the integrity of the Single Market and the EU’s Customs Union.

Some people think that we could have two different sets of rules on the island of Ireland and still avoid border checks.

But Ireland is a member of the EU – and a proudmember, I add. It is an active player, active, very active player, in the Single Market.

Goods that enter Ireland also enter the Single Market. It is called the “Single” Market for a reason.

So, since we all agree that we do not want a border, and since the UK agreed to respect Ireland’s place in the Single Market, then that means goods entering Northern Ireland must comply with the rules of the Single Market and the Union Customs Code.

That is our logic. Simple as that.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The EU does not want to have a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

And we have no intention of questioning the UK’s constitutional order. That is none of our business.

We are seeking practical, practical and operational,solutions to a complex problem. No more, no less.

  • Our backstop solution only concerns goods – not people. People will continue to move freely between Ireland and the UK. And obviously between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. We agreed to protect the Common Travel Area. That was important progress.
    • And regulatory alignment with the Single Market would be strictly limited to what is needed to avoid a hard border, notably for goods.
  • We know that there are already special rules and checks, I know that, in Northern Ireland compared to the rest of the UK. There are all-island phytosanitary and veterinary rules, or rules where food safety and consumer protection is at stake. And everybody is fine with that because in all these cases, it would make no sense to have two separate sets of rules on the same island. Practical and operational solutions.

Finally, the backstop will apply unless and until another solution is found as part of the future relationship.

We are ready to look constructively at all options which allow us to meet our objectives – all options.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is the EU’s position, which is built in close cooperation with the Irish government and all Irish political leaders. And this is what I underlined, on the same terms, in my recent meetings with the leaders of Sinn Féin, the Democratic Unionist Party and the Ulster Unionist Party. And I look forward to confirm this position to the SDLP and the Alliance, and of course also to business representatives and civil society.

Ladies and gentlemen, we need substantive progress on the backstop before the June European Council.

I am confident that together, with the unity of the 27 and a constructive attitude on both sides, we will be able to agree on the right solution for avoiding a hard border and maintaining North-South cooperation in all its diversity. In all its creativity.

Let me conclude: agreement on the orderly withdrawal, including the backstop for Ireland, will pave the way for constructive negotiations for a broad partnership for the future – not only on economics and trade, but also on a lot of areas of thematic cooperation – I am thinking of aviation, Erasmus + for the young, on internal and external security, defence and foreign policy.

Together as the EU, together with the UK, we will move forward.

I want to thank finally for your attention and for your trust.

SPEECH/18/3624

26/04/2018

BREXIT : Speech by Michel Barnier at the Eurofi High-level Seminar 2018

Sofia, 26 April 2018

Dear David, dear Didier,

Ministers,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is good to be back at Eurofi!

We met many times during the financial crisis. I am sure nobody here is nostalgic about that period. No nostalgia, but no short memories either!

I am glad to speak to you during better economic times than the last time we met.

  • Last year EU growth reached 2.4% – the highest percentage in a decade.
  • The labour market continues to improve, with unemployment down to 7.5% in the EU.
  • Public finances are improving.
  • And investment is recovering, supported by strong demand and good financing conditions.

At the same time, the EU faces challenges:

  • Unemployment remains high in some parts of the EU, and the increase in wages remains limited.
  • Even if it is improving, investment remains too low.
  • As a result, core inflation is subdued.
  • The EU could also be impacted by global risks, such as:

o   A tightening of financial conditions in the medium term;

o   Geopolitical tensions and a shift towards protectionism globally.

  • And of course, Brexit is also one of the various challenges that we face.

Brexit is a lose-lose situation. I do not see add value in Brexit and so far, nobody has shown us any.

  • Outside of the Customs Union and the Single Market, there can be no frictionless trade.
  • Businesses will be faced with non-tariff barriers and border checks that do not exist today.
  • For many economic sectors, this will have an impact on value chains, which are currently closely integrated.
  • This will impact in particular manufacturing and logistics, as well as the agricultural and food sectors.
  • The situation would be made worse in a “no deal” scenario, which would result in the return of tariffs, under WTO rules.

So, Brexit will come at a cost.

And this cost will be substantially higher for the UK than for the EU. Let me make 4 points:

  1. Trade dependency is far higher on the UK side. The EU27 accounts for around 50% of UK export and imports. The UK market represents around 7% of EU exports and 4% of imports. Some EU regions are of course more exposed to the UK than others. We will be very attentive regarding this impact.
  2. The UK attracts Foreign Direct Investment to serve broader EU markets. With unavoidable friction and non-tariff barriers, some companies will need to rethink their business models.
  3. EU talent may find the UK to be a less attractive place. This could generate skills shortages, for instance in the health sector.
  4. Finally, the UK is currently covered by 750 international agreements as an EU Member State. After Brexit, the UK will have to negotiate its own agreements – not only in trade – but also, for instance, in aviation. The UK will need a new administrative capacity.

SPEECH CONTINUED

But we, in the EU, will also need to face the consequences of Brexit.

We need to accelerate reforms that are ongoing to build a stronger Euro Area and a stronger Single Market.

  • We must boost confidence in the Eurozone by completing the Economic and Monetary Union,

o   For instance, by transforming the European Stability Mechanism into a European Monetary Fund;

o   And with a stabilisation tool to help Member States with large asymmetric shocks, which cannot be managed at national level alone.

  • We must complete the Banking Union, in particular with a common backstop for resolution, measures to tackle the issue of non-performing loans and a European Deposit Insurance Scheme.
  • And we must continue building a Capital Markets Union at 27 to open up markets, give EU businesses better access to finance and provide more investment opportunities for savers. For the CMU, new technologies and digitalisation are of key importance, as is shown by Valdis Dombrovskis’ FinTech Action Plan. And I would like to also salute the work of Mariya Gabriel, the Bulgarian Commissioner who, in a dynamic manner, steers the work of the Commission on the Digital Single Market.

All these reforms, on which Valdis will give you more insight in a few moments, were decided before Brexit. But Brexit makes implementing them even more urgent.

Indeed, the UK decision will fragment a market that we have integrated step-by-step at 28. That integration must continue at 27.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The EU is ready to handle the costs caused by the UK’s decision to leave.

  • Some argue that the EU desperately needs the City of London, and that access to financing for EU27 business would be hampered – and economic growth undermined – without giving UK operators the same market access as today.
  • This is not what we hear from market participants, and it is not the analysis that we have made ourselves.
  • The ECB states clearly in its Financial Stability Review of last November[1] that: “the risk that access to wholesale and retail financial services would be materially restricted for the euro area economy appears limited.”

On the UK side, Prime Minister Theresa May has clarified that the UK is not looking for passporting. It is positive that there is now more recognition of the cost of Brexit for the UK.

But the Prime Minister also asked for mechanisms to continue the exchange of services in each other’s markets, “based on the UK and EU maintaining the same regulatory outcomes over time”.

I can perfectly see the UK’s logic and interest in pleading for a system of “mutual recognition” and “reciprocal regulatory equivalence”. This is, indeed, what the Single Market achieves!

“Everything must change so that everything can stay the same”, to paraphrase Lampedusa. But this will not work.

The UK has decided to withdraw from the Union. It wants to be sovereign and be able to set its own rulebook, to have its own supervision and enforcement system.

In doing so, the UK will move away from EU rules. It will not accept common EU supervision and enforcement tools. These are precisely the essential building blocks of our post-crisis financial regulation. They ensure that the internal market can exist and function correctly.

The EU understands that the UK does not want to become a ‘rule-taker’.

But the UK also needs to understand that the EU cannot accept mutual market access without the common safeguards that underpin it.

This is needed to maintain financial stability, investor protection, market integrity and a level playing field.

This objective would not be reached if financial institutions could operate in the EU, or serve clients in the EU, based on an authorisation by the supervisors of a third country, subject to the rules, supervision and enforcement mechanisms of this third country alone.

This is not something that any country in the world would accept. That said, the EU is and will remain the most open market in the world. As Valdis Dombrovskis said in the City of London on Tuesday, no other jurisdiction operates a framework that is more open, comprehensive and rule-based for third countries.

And the EU intends to keep the Single Market open with third countries, in general, including the UK.

  • In the EU, free movement of capital is open for third countries.
  • As regards market access to provide services, the European Council made clear that our future FTA with the UK should include the right of establishment, with EU rules applying.
  • And where allowed by our legislation, the EU will be able to declare some of the UK’s rules and supervisory systems as equivalent.

On the future of equivalence, ladies and gentlemen, I want to make three points.

1) First, there is no intention of discriminating against the UK, post-Brexit.

In financial services, as in other sectors, there is no intention of punishment or revenge.

The world of finance is global and interdependent. We have a mutual interest in working together, not separately.

To date, the EU has adopted more than 200 equivalence decisions covering more than 30 non-member countries.

And we are improving the equivalence process. We have made new proposals with EMIR step 2 and the Investment Firm Review, and we started the process of improving equivalence with the ESAs Review.

Why would the equivalence system, which works well for the US industry, not work for the City?

2) Secondly, the equivalence system will operate in a more effective manner if the UK decides not to diverge from our financial regulation.

Let’s not have a short memory! We all saw during the crisis that the risks of financial instability were ultimately borne by taxpayers – not only in the UK.

We saw for instance that remuneration of bankers set the wrong incentives and allowed excessive risk-taking.

And since the financial crisis evolved into an economic and social crisis, the consequences were indeed borne by society, from the young unemployed to the owners of small businesses. And I am not even mentioning the political consequences: nobody should underestimate these!

In order to limit the risks in the future, we collectively developed, together with the G20, more effective financial regulation and supervision. And we were very happy to do this hand-in-hand with the UK.

We need to keep this joint regulatory effort in mind, and be ready to exchange our ideas for future rules in the context of a close and voluntary regulatory cooperation.

3) Thirdly, the 21-month transition period that we have proposed could be useful to prepare for the new relationship.

That transition will also allow the EU to consider the adoption of equivalence decisions.

However, certainty about this transition period will only come once the whole Withdrawal Agreement has been agreed and ratified.

In the meantime, both market participants and public authorities should hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

In other words, for as long as the ratification has not taken place, we need to be ready in case of a “no deal, no transition” scenario. This is our collective responsibility.

We have made good progress in the last 6 months, but we are not there yet. There is difficult work ahead before the June European Council.

This means that market participants and public authorities must continue to prepare for all scenarios. No one should underestimate the risk of disagreement.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The EU is ready to engage in close cooperation with the UK and consider equivalence decisions, where needed. Since he is going to speak in a moment, I want to publicly thank Valdis Dombrovskis, as well as DG FISMA, for their excellent cooperation on Brexit issues.

But the UK, which has acknowledged that its current red lines mean losing the financial passport, must also acknowledge that it cannot have the benefits of such passports.

And market participants should realise that this will not be business as usual.

In order to accompany that process, the European Commission has issued notices on asset management, credit-rating agencies, markets in financial instruments, insurance and reinsurance, banking and payment services, statutory audit and post-trade financial services.

We hope that these notices will be helpful. All market participants, big and small, will have to adapt to the new reality.

I know how mobile and dynamic the financial industry is. I trust its capacity to adapt to new times and to continue their contribution to the development of the Capital Markets Union and EU’s Single Market in financial services.

We should look at the future not with fear of the unknown but with confidence in well-regulated and supervised markets.

  • Europe will continue to be an open and attractive place to do business.
  • London will continue to be a global financial centre.
  • A significant level of financial relationship will remain, properly managed and supervised.
  • Firms will adjust their business models to the new reality.
  • And public authorities will ensure that risks to financial stability are properly supervised and that rules are enforced.

Thank you for your attention.

26/04/2018

BREXIT : Speech by Michel Barnier at the Eurofi High-level Seminar 2018

Sofia, 26 April 2018

Dear David, dear Didier,

Ministers,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is good to be back at Eurofi!

We met many times during the financial crisis. I am sure nobody here is nostalgic about that period. No nostalgia, but no short memories either!

I am glad to speak to you during better economic times than the last time we met.

  • Last year EU growth reached 2.4% – the highest percentage in a decade.
  • The labour market continues to improve, with unemployment down to 7.5% in the EU.
  • Public finances are improving.
  • And investment is recovering, supported by strong demand and good financing conditions.

At the same time, the EU faces challenges:

  • Unemployment remains high in some parts of the EU, and the increase in wages remains limited.
  • Even if it is improving, investment remains too low.
  • As a result, core inflation is subdued.
  • The EU could also be impacted by global risks, such as:

o   A tightening of financial conditions in the medium term;

o   Geopolitical tensions and a shift towards protectionism globally.

  • And of course, Brexit is also one of the various challenges that we face.

Brexit is a lose-lose situation. I do not see add value in Brexit and so far, nobody has shown us any.

  • Outside of the Customs Union and the Single Market, there can be no frictionless trade.
  • Businesses will be faced with non-tariff barriers and border checks that do not exist today.
  • For many economic sectors, this will have an impact on value chains, which are currently closely integrated.
  • This will impact in particular manufacturing and logistics, as well as the agricultural and food sectors.
  • The situation would be made worse in a “no deal” scenario, which would result in the return of tariffs, under WTO rules.

So, Brexit will come at a cost.

And this cost will be substantially higher for the UK than for the EU. Let me make 4 points:

  1. Trade dependency is far higher on the UK side. The EU27 accounts for around 50% of UK export and imports. The UK market represents around 7% of EU exports and 4% of imports. Some EU regions are of course more exposed to the UK than others. We will be very attentive regarding this impact.
  2. The UK attracts Foreign Direct Investment to serve broader EU markets. With unavoidable friction and non-tariff barriers, some companies will need to rethink their business models.
  3. EU talent may find the UK to be a less attractive place. This could generate skills shortages, for instance in the health sector.
  4. Finally, the UK is currently covered by 750 international agreements as an EU Member State. After Brexit, the UK will have to negotiate its own agreements – not only in trade – but also, for instance, in aviation. The UK will need a new administrative capacity.

SPEECH CONTINUED

But we, in the EU, will also need to face the consequences of Brexit.

We need to accelerate reforms that are ongoing to build a stronger Euro Area and a stronger Single Market.

  • We must boost confidence in the Eurozone by completing the Economic and Monetary Union,

o   For instance, by transforming the European Stability Mechanism into a European Monetary Fund;

o   And with a stabilisation tool to help Member States with large asymmetric shocks, which cannot be managed at national level alone.

  • We must complete the Banking Union, in particular with a common backstop for resolution, measures to tackle the issue of non-performing loans and a European Deposit Insurance Scheme.
  • And we must continue building a Capital Markets Union at 27 to open up markets, give EU businesses better access to finance and provide more investment opportunities for savers. For the CMU, new technologies and digitalisation are of key importance, as is shown by Valdis Dombrovskis’ FinTech Action Plan. And I would like to also salute the work of Mariya Gabriel, the Bulgarian Commissioner who, in a dynamic manner, steers the work of the Commission on the Digital Single Market.

All these reforms, on which Valdis will give you more insight in a few moments, were decided before Brexit. But Brexit makes implementing them even more urgent.

Indeed, the UK decision will fragment a market that we have integrated step-by-step at 28. That integration must continue at 27.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The EU is ready to handle the costs caused by the UK’s decision to leave.

  • Some argue that the EU desperately needs the City of London, and that access to financing for EU27 business would be hampered – and economic growth undermined – without giving UK operators the same market access as today.
  • This is not what we hear from market participants, and it is not the analysis that we have made ourselves.
  • The ECB states clearly in its Financial Stability Review of last November[1] that: “the risk that access to wholesale and retail financial services would be materially restricted for the euro area economy appears limited.”

On the UK side, Prime Minister Theresa May has clarified that the UK is not looking for passporting. It is positive that there is now more recognition of the cost of Brexit for the UK.

But the Prime Minister also asked for mechanisms to continue the exchange of services in each other’s markets, “based on the UK and EU maintaining the same regulatory outcomes over time”.

I can perfectly see the UK’s logic and interest in pleading for a system of “mutual recognition” and “reciprocal regulatory equivalence”. This is, indeed, what the Single Market achieves!

“Everything must change so that everything can stay the same”, to paraphrase Lampedusa. But this will not work.

The UK has decided to withdraw from the Union. It wants to be sovereign and be able to set its own rulebook, to have its own supervision and enforcement system.

In doing so, the UK will move away from EU rules. It will not accept common EU supervision and enforcement tools. These are precisely the essential building blocks of our post-crisis financial regulation. They ensure that the internal market can exist and function correctly.

The EU understands that the UK does not want to become a ‘rule-taker’.

But the UK also needs to understand that the EU cannot accept mutual market access without the common safeguards that underpin it.

This is needed to maintain financial stability, investor protection, market integrity and a level playing field.

This objective would not be reached if financial institutions could operate in the EU, or serve clients in the EU, based on an authorisation by the supervisors of a third country, subject to the rules, supervision and enforcement mechanisms of this third country alone.

This is not something that any country in the world would accept. That said, the EU is and will remain the most open market in the world. As Valdis Dombrovskis said in the City of London on Tuesday, no other jurisdiction operates a framework that is more open, comprehensive and rule-based for third countries.

And the EU intends to keep the Single Market open with third countries, in general, including the UK.

  • In the EU, free movement of capital is open for third countries.
  • As regards market access to provide services, the European Council made clear that our future FTA with the UK should include the right of establishment, with EU rules applying.
  • And where allowed by our legislation, the EU will be able to declare some of the UK’s rules and supervisory systems as equivalent.

On the future of equivalence, ladies and gentlemen, I want to make three points.

1) First, there is no intention of discriminating against the UK, post-Brexit.

In financial services, as in other sectors, there is no intention of punishment or revenge.

The world of finance is global and interdependent. We have a mutual interest in working together, not separately.

To date, the EU has adopted more than 200 equivalence decisions covering more than 30 non-member countries.

And we are improving the equivalence process. We have made new proposals with EMIR step 2 and the Investment Firm Review, and we started the process of improving equivalence with the ESAs Review.

Why would the equivalence system, which works well for the US industry, not work for the City?

2) Secondly, the equivalence system will operate in a more effective manner if the UK decides not to diverge from our financial regulation.

Let’s not have a short memory! We all saw during the crisis that the risks of financial instability were ultimately borne by taxpayers – not only in the UK.

We saw for instance that remuneration of bankers set the wrong incentives and allowed excessive risk-taking.

And since the financial crisis evolved into an economic and social crisis, the consequences were indeed borne by society, from the young unemployed to the owners of small businesses. And I am not even mentioning the political consequences: nobody should underestimate these!

In order to limit the risks in the future, we collectively developed, together with the G20, more effective financial regulation and supervision. And we were very happy to do this hand-in-hand with the UK.

We need to keep this joint regulatory effort in mind, and be ready to exchange our ideas for future rules in the context of a close and voluntary regulatory cooperation.

3) Thirdly, the 21-month transition period that we have proposed could be useful to prepare for the new relationship.

That transition will also allow the EU to consider the adoption of equivalence decisions.

However, certainty about this transition period will only come once the whole Withdrawal Agreement has been agreed and ratified.

In the meantime, both market participants and public authorities should hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

In other words, for as long as the ratification has not taken place, we need to be ready in case of a “no deal, no transition” scenario. This is our collective responsibility.

We have made good progress in the last 6 months, but we are not there yet. There is difficult work ahead before the June European Council.

This means that market participants and public authorities must continue to prepare for all scenarios. No one should underestimate the risk of disagreement.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The EU is ready to engage in close cooperation with the UK and consider equivalence decisions, where needed. Since he is going to speak in a moment, I want to publicly thank Valdis Dombrovskis, as well as DG FISMA, for their excellent cooperation on Brexit issues.

But the UK, which has acknowledged that its current red lines mean losing the financial passport, must also acknowledge that it cannot have the benefits of such passports.

And market participants should realise that this will not be business as usual.

In order to accompany that process, the European Commission has issued notices on asset management, credit-rating agencies, markets in financial instruments, insurance and reinsurance, banking and payment services, statutory audit and post-trade financial services.

We hope that these notices will be helpful. All market participants, big and small, will have to adapt to the new reality.

I know how mobile and dynamic the financial industry is. I trust its capacity to adapt to new times and to continue their contribution to the development of the Capital Markets Union and EU’s Single Market in financial services.

We should look at the future not with fear of the unknown but with confidence in well-regulated and supervised markets.

  • Europe will continue to be an open and attractive place to do business.
  • London will continue to be a global financial centre.
  • A significant level of financial relationship will remain, properly managed and supervised.
  • Firms will adjust their business models to the new reality.
  • And public authorities will ensure that risks to financial stability are properly supervised and that rules are enforced.

Thank you for your attention.

26/04/2018

BREXIT : Speech by Michel Barnier at the Eurofi High-level Seminar 2018

Sofia, 26 April 2018

Dear David, dear Didier,

Ministers,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is good to be back at Eurofi!

We met many times during the financial crisis. I am sure nobody here is nostalgic about that period. No nostalgia, but no short memories either!

I am glad to speak to you during better economic times than the last time we met.

  • Last year EU growth reached 2.4% – the highest percentage in a decade.
  • The labour market continues to improve, with unemployment down to 7.5% in the EU.
  • Public finances are improving.
  • And investment is recovering, supported by strong demand and good financing conditions.

At the same time, the EU faces challenges:

  • Unemployment remains high in some parts of the EU, and the increase in wages remains limited.
  • Even if it is improving, investment remains too low.
  • As a result, core inflation is subdued.
  • The EU could also be impacted by global risks, such as:

o   A tightening of financial conditions in the medium term;

o   Geopolitical tensions and a shift towards protectionism globally.

  • And of course, Brexit is also one of the various challenges that we face.

Brexit is a lose-lose situation. I do not see add value in Brexit and so far, nobody has shown us any.

  • Outside of the Customs Union and the Single Market, there can be no frictionless trade.
  • Businesses will be faced with non-tariff barriers and border checks that do not exist today.
  • For many economic sectors, this will have an impact on value chains, which are currently closely integrated.
  • This will impact in particular manufacturing and logistics, as well as the agricultural and food sectors.
  • The situation would be made worse in a “no deal” scenario, which would result in the return of tariffs, under WTO rules.

So, Brexit will come at a cost.

And this cost will be substantially higher for the UK than for the EU. Let me make 4 points:

  1. Trade dependency is far higher on the UK side. The EU27 accounts for around 50% of UK export and imports. The UK market represents around 7% of EU exports and 4% of imports. Some EU regions are of course more exposed to the UK than others. We will be very attentive regarding this impact.
  2. The UK attracts Foreign Direct Investment to serve broader EU markets. With unavoidable friction and non-tariff barriers, some companies will need to rethink their business models.
  3. EU talent may find the UK to be a less attractive place. This could generate skills shortages, for instance in the health sector.
  4. Finally, the UK is currently covered by 750 international agreements as an EU Member State. After Brexit, the UK will have to negotiate its own agreements – not only in trade – but also, for instance, in aviation. The UK will need a new administrative capacity.

SPEECH CONTINUED

But we, in the EU, will also need to face the consequences of Brexit.

We need to accelerate reforms that are ongoing to build a stronger Euro Area and a stronger Single Market.

  • We must boost confidence in the Eurozone by completing the Economic and Monetary Union,

o   For instance, by transforming the European Stability Mechanism into a European Monetary Fund;

o   And with a stabilisation tool to help Member States with large asymmetric shocks, which cannot be managed at national level alone.

  • We must complete the Banking Union, in particular with a common backstop for resolution, measures to tackle the issue of non-performing loans and a European Deposit Insurance Scheme.
  • And we must continue building a Capital Markets Union at 27 to open up markets, give EU businesses better access to finance and provide more investment opportunities for savers. For the CMU, new technologies and digitalisation are of key importance, as is shown by Valdis Dombrovskis’ FinTech Action Plan. And I would like to also salute the work of Mariya Gabriel, the Bulgarian Commissioner who, in a dynamic manner, steers the work of the Commission on the Digital Single Market.

All these reforms, on which Valdis will give you more insight in a few moments, were decided before Brexit. But Brexit makes implementing them even more urgent.

Indeed, the UK decision will fragment a market that we have integrated step-by-step at 28. That integration must continue at 27.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The EU is ready to handle the costs caused by the UK’s decision to leave.

  • Some argue that the EU desperately needs the City of London, and that access to financing for EU27 business would be hampered – and economic growth undermined – without giving UK operators the same market access as today.
  • This is not what we hear from market participants, and it is not the analysis that we have made ourselves.
  • The ECB states clearly in its Financial Stability Review of last November[1] that: “the risk that access to wholesale and retail financial services would be materially restricted for the euro area economy appears limited.”

On the UK side, Prime Minister Theresa May has clarified that the UK is not looking for passporting. It is positive that there is now more recognition of the cost of Brexit for the UK.

But the Prime Minister also asked for mechanisms to continue the exchange of services in each other’s markets, “based on the UK and EU maintaining the same regulatory outcomes over time”.

I can perfectly see the UK’s logic and interest in pleading for a system of “mutual recognition” and “reciprocal regulatory equivalence”. This is, indeed, what the Single Market achieves!

“Everything must change so that everything can stay the same”, to paraphrase Lampedusa. But this will not work.

The UK has decided to withdraw from the Union. It wants to be sovereign and be able to set its own rulebook, to have its own supervision and enforcement system.

In doing so, the UK will move away from EU rules. It will not accept common EU supervision and enforcement tools. These are precisely the essential building blocks of our post-crisis financial regulation. They ensure that the internal market can exist and function correctly.

The EU understands that the UK does not want to become a ‘rule-taker’.

But the UK also needs to understand that the EU cannot accept mutual market access without the common safeguards that underpin it.

This is needed to maintain financial stability, investor protection, market integrity and a level playing field.

This objective would not be reached if financial institutions could operate in the EU, or serve clients in the EU, based on an authorisation by the supervisors of a third country, subject to the rules, supervision and enforcement mechanisms of this third country alone.

This is not something that any country in the world would accept. That said, the EU is and will remain the most open market in the world. As Valdis Dombrovskis said in the City of London on Tuesday, no other jurisdiction operates a framework that is more open, comprehensive and rule-based for third countries.

And the EU intends to keep the Single Market open with third countries, in general, including the UK.

  • In the EU, free movement of capital is open for third countries.
  • As regards market access to provide services, the European Council made clear that our future FTA with the UK should include the right of establishment, with EU rules applying.
  • And where allowed by our legislation, the EU will be able to declare some of the UK’s rules and supervisory systems as equivalent.

On the future of equivalence, ladies and gentlemen, I want to make three points.

1) First, there is no intention of discriminating against the UK, post-Brexit.

In financial services, as in other sectors, there is no intention of punishment or revenge.

The world of finance is global and interdependent. We have a mutual interest in working together, not separately.

To date, the EU has adopted more than 200 equivalence decisions covering more than 30 non-member countries.

And we are improving the equivalence process. We have made new proposals with EMIR step 2 and the Investment Firm Review, and we started the process of improving equivalence with the ESAs Review.

Why would the equivalence system, which works well for the US industry, not work for the City?

2) Secondly, the equivalence system will operate in a more effective manner if the UK decides not to diverge from our financial regulation.

Let’s not have a short memory! We all saw during the crisis that the risks of financial instability were ultimately borne by taxpayers – not only in the UK.

We saw for instance that remuneration of bankers set the wrong incentives and allowed excessive risk-taking.

And since the financial crisis evolved into an economic and social crisis, the consequences were indeed borne by society, from the young unemployed to the owners of small businesses. And I am not even mentioning the political consequences: nobody should underestimate these!

In order to limit the risks in the future, we collectively developed, together with the G20, more effective financial regulation and supervision. And we were very happy to do this hand-in-hand with the UK.

We need to keep this joint regulatory effort in mind, and be ready to exchange our ideas for future rules in the context of a close and voluntary regulatory cooperation.

3) Thirdly, the 21-month transition period that we have proposed could be useful to prepare for the new relationship.

That transition will also allow the EU to consider the adoption of equivalence decisions.

However, certainty about this transition period will only come once the whole Withdrawal Agreement has been agreed and ratified.

In the meantime, both market participants and public authorities should hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

In other words, for as long as the ratification has not taken place, we need to be ready in case of a “no deal, no transition” scenario. This is our collective responsibility.

We have made good progress in the last 6 months, but we are not there yet. There is difficult work ahead before the June European Council.

This means that market participants and public authorities must continue to prepare for all scenarios. No one should underestimate the risk of disagreement.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The EU is ready to engage in close cooperation with the UK and consider equivalence decisions, where needed. Since he is going to speak in a moment, I want to publicly thank Valdis Dombrovskis, as well as DG FISMA, for their excellent cooperation on Brexit issues.

But the UK, which has acknowledged that its current red lines mean losing the financial passport, must also acknowledge that it cannot have the benefits of such passports.

And market participants should realise that this will not be business as usual.

In order to accompany that process, the European Commission has issued notices on asset management, credit-rating agencies, markets in financial instruments, insurance and reinsurance, banking and payment services, statutory audit and post-trade financial services.

We hope that these notices will be helpful. All market participants, big and small, will have to adapt to the new reality.

I know how mobile and dynamic the financial industry is. I trust its capacity to adapt to new times and to continue their contribution to the development of the Capital Markets Union and EU’s Single Market in financial services.

We should look at the future not with fear of the unknown but with confidence in well-regulated and supervised markets.

  • Europe will continue to be an open and attractive place to do business.
  • London will continue to be a global financial centre.
  • A significant level of financial relationship will remain, properly managed and supervised.
  • Firms will adjust their business models to the new reality.
  • And public authorities will ensure that risks to financial stability are properly supervised and that rules are enforced.

Thank you for your attention.

26/04/2018

BREXIT : House of Commons updates

The impact of Brexit on the processed food and drink sector

The Government is almost out of time to negotiate a trade system after Brexit, risking on impact on consumers, businesses and workers

 

Leaving the EU: local government consultation after withdrawal

Overview of the formal advisory role that local government currently has in the EU law and policy-making process

 

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill: Government Amendments (PDF 128 KB)

Assesses the amendments tabled by the Government for report stage of the EU Withdrawal Bill

 

A UK–EU customs union?

Overview of UK–EU trade, the EU customs union and the possibility of establishing an effective customs union between the UK and the EU

 

Leaving the EU: food safety

Overview of food safety law and regulating bodies in the UK, the implications of Brexit for food safety and the impact of new trade deals

 

EU (Withdrawal) Bill: Further Government Amendments (PDF 116 KB)

Analyses some of the additional amendments to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill tabled by the Government

25/04/2018

BREXIT : Information about the Withdrawal Bill  – updated today

 

Information about the Withdrawal Bill, which is designed to ensure that the UK exits the EU with maximum certainty, continuity and control has been updated today 25 April

View all here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/information-about-the-withdrawal-bill#history

13/04/2018

BREXIT : Programme: EU-UK Article 50 negotiations  Brussels, 16-18 April 2018

 

Monday, 16 April 2018

  • Meeting at technical level – Withdrawal Agreement – remaining issues

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

  • Meeting at technical level – Withdrawal Agreement – remaining issues

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

  • Coordinators’ meeting – Ireland/Northern Ireland
  • Coordinators’ meeting – future relationship

 

Next meetings provisionally scheduled for w/c 30 April.

10/04/2018

BREXIT : Remarks by Michel Barnier at Green 10: “Is Brexit a threat to the future of the EU’s environment?” – European Parliament

Thank you Peter Liese for having organised this event, with Green 10 organisation represented by Cécile Toubeau,

Thank you also Jo Leinen.

I see also many other members of the European Parliament, where I come almost every week to discuss Brexit, with the EP Brexit Steering Group, the various political groups and committees.

Thank you for inviting me to speak about this essential topic of the environment.

I was myself environment minister some time ago and I have not forgotten the work which we did with other Member States and at EU level.

I remain very close to these issues.

Before that, some 20 years earlier, I took part as a young Gaullist in the campaign in favour of the accession of Denmark, Ireland, Norway, and the UK.

I have never regretted this vote.

The result of the Brexit referendum is one which we can regret, but one which we have to respect and implement.

When I took the job of Chief Negotiator in October 2016, I had three main questions for the UK.

These questions are still relevant today.

Remarks continued

1) Does the UK want an orderly withdrawal or a disorderly withdrawal?

Today, I think we can be positive that the UK government indeed wants an orderly withdrawal.

Last month we reached a decisive milestone on this first question.

o   We agreed on a legal text for the protection of citizens’ rights, an essential priority for me, for the European Parliament and Member States; and the financial settlement.

o   At the same time, we reached a political agreement on a transition period of 21 months, until the end of December 2020.

o   And we agreed on several other separation issues, from customs procedures to the circulation of goods already placed on the market, or the UK’s commitments for nuclear energy, and Euratom more broadly.

However, we are not there yet.

In particular, we still have to work on two major points of divergence – on how to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland and on the governance of the Withdrawal Agreement.

And we have some separation issues where we have not yet reached an agreement: for instance, the protection of geographical indications and police and judicial cooperation.

We can hope to reach an agreement on the withdrawal if we stay in this spirit in our negotiations until October this year.

2) The second question is what kind of future relationship does the UK want with the European Union?

Here also, Theresa May has brought some elements of clarity.

In her speech of 2 March in the Mansion House, she confirmed that the UK will be leaving the Customs Union and the Single Market.

She also confirmed the UK’s red lines. The only available model is, therefore, that of a free trade agreement. Other models remain of course on the table in case the UK position would evolve.

3) But there was, and there is, a third question, which in my view is quite relevant for our debate today: does the UK want to stay close to the European regulatory model or to distance itself from it?

This is an important decision because the European regulatory framework is underpinned by key choices that are dear to us: our social market economy, health protection, food security, fair and effective financial regulation, and high levels of environmental protection.

There will be no ambitious partnership without common ground on fair competition, State aid, guarantees against tax dumping and social standards and, not least, environmental standards.

I know that the European Parliament, like the Member States and the Commission, is particularly vigilant in this respect.

This is also well known in the UK.

As recently noted in the UK press, across the full range of issues – air and water pollution, habitats and species protection, waste management and recycling, energy efficiency, carbon emissions and energy policy – it is EU regulation that sets high standards of protection[1].

And the UK has often been at the forefront in shaping and deciding European rules.

And of course, you, members of the European Parliament, and representatives of NGOs, have contributed greatly to shaping these rules.

Ladies and gentlemen,

What we hear from the UK could be seen as reassuring.

In her Mansion House speech, the Prime Minister pointed specifically at the environment, saying, and I quote Theresa May, that “the EU should be confident that we will not engage in a race to the bottom in the standards and protections we set.”

These are the clear words from Theresa May.

This is reflected in the UK’s proposed 25 year plan on the environment.

This is welcome, but my responsibility as the EU negotiator is to remain extremely vigilant.

To me, that means two points, on which the European Parliament also insisted in its latest resolution.

And these two points reflect what we discussed with Member States and the European Parliament in our seminars on the future relationship. All of which has been published on our website.

I – First point, our future partnership must include precise provisions on a level playing field, especially in environmental matters.

  • Without a level playing field the UK could, now or in the future, decide to reduce environmental protection to gain competitive advantage.
  • Such measures would open up the possibility for more pollution and environmentally harmful production in the UK. They would also increase pollution for neighbours.
  • Reduced UK ambition on air pollution could result in neighbouring states (Ireland, Belgium, France the Netherlands) needing up to 9% more effort to reach their clean air objectives – with significant additional costs.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am not prejudging anything as to the UK’s future policies.

But let me be clear: these questions are not only economic or social, but also political.

Why?

Because the answers will be key to the ratification of any future deal by each national parliament, and obviously also by some regional parliaments, and by the European Parliament.

This is why in the future relationship we should commit to no lowering of the standards of environmental protection.

The agreement on the future relationship with the UK should include a non-regression clause.

This can be inspired by the CETA or Japan FTA provisions, but this will need to go further. It should prevent any reduction of the key pre-Brexit standards.

Of course, a strong level playing field requires effective oversight and enforcement of environmental rules.

This is needed to ensure the confidence of citizens and companies in the fairness of the future arrangements with the UK.

II – Second point: the UK will have to keep to its international commitments.

The UK itself is a party to many international environmental agreements.

At the moment, it often meets these obligations on the basis of EU rules.

We expect the UK to continue to meet these international obligations once it has left the EU.

Let me take three concrete examples.

  1. Both the EU and the UK have ratified the Paris Climate Agreement.

o   We should continue to promote the global solutions to climate change which the Paris agreement offers.

o   The UK has always pushed for strong global action and high emissions reduction targets.

o   We expect that it will continue to set itself the same level of climate ambition after leaving the EU. This will also open the way for practical cooperation between us.

  1. Second example, in line with the United Nations convention, the EU and the UK will also need to cooperate on the management and conservation of around 100 shared fish stocks to ensure their long term sustainability.
  2. Third example, the UK should continue to protect birds and other migratory species in line with the Bern and Ramsar conventions.

Dear Friends,

  • If we make sure that our future partnership is based on a level playing field;
  • If the UK continues to meet international standards and obligations on the environment;
  • If we can assure our citizens of continued effective enforcement of environmental rules;
  • Then – to respond to the title of this event – we would have strongly mitigated the threats of Brexit to the future of the EU’s environment.
  • Our negotiating team will follow these goals, and we will continue to do so in close coordination with the European Parliament and in full transparency.
  • Because, once again, this negotiation is unprecedented.
  • Because the organisations you represent have the right to know how the negotiation unfolds.
  • And because transparency is key for the public debate that we need on Brexit.
  • This negotiation will not and cannot be secret.

Thank you.

10/04/2018

BREXIT : Building a global Britain

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, David Lidington gave this speech to the Chevening Alumni Group in Beijing, China during his third official visit to the country

Introduction

Thank you for that kind introduction.

I am delighted to be with you here this afternoon during what is my third official visit to China.

I first visited this unique country back in 2008 when I attended the second UK-China Senior Leadership Forum, which we jointly hold with the Communist Party of China.

And it is for similar reasons that I return today, ten years later, leading a delegation of UK Parliamentarians to what is the tenth such forum, which I spoke at earlier this morning.

Now it is fair to say the relationship between China and the UK during this time has grown significantly.

President Xi Jinping came to the UK on a State Visit in 2015, launching the new ‘Golden Era’ between our two countries.

At the start of this year, Prime Minister Theresa May visited China to renew, strengthen and intensify our relations.

And I am pleased to return today at what is a truly crucial moment in our relationship.

For as we make preparations for our departure from the European Union, the UK Government is determined to realise our bold vision for a global Britain that will follow – an outward-looking, welcoming, free-trading country providing leadership on the world stage.

And there is no more fitting audience to discuss Britain’s changing role in the world than a group of Chevening scholars – those leaders, influencers, and decision-makers from all over the world who have experienced British culture, and are committed to building lasting positive relationships with the UK.

You represent the very essence of global Britain – and remind us why delivering that vision is so important to our future prosperity and success as we forge a new role for ourselves outside the EU.

And that is what I would like to talk to you about today: the reasons the UK voted the way we did, how negotiations are progressing, and above all, how we want to emerge on the other side – the sort of country that we wish to build.

The vote to leave the EU

Speech continued

The vote to leave the EU

There were many different reasons why people voted to leave the European Union in 2016.

As some of you here will know, I voted and campaigned hard to remain in the EU – as did many people in the UK.

But reflecting on that campaign, I think that above all else, people in the UK sought to regain a feeling of control – not just control over our laws, but over our lives too, and the decisions that affect our daily lives.

So the British electorate made a choice: they chose the power of domestic democratic control over pooling that control – meaning those decisions being made in Britain by people directly accountable to British citizens.

They chose to strengthen the role of the UK Parliament and the devolved Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies, ensuring that more powers go to the devolved governments than ever before.

They chose for Britain to become an independent trading nation once again – free to sign its own trade deals with partners, friends and allies around the world.

And above all, as the Prime Minister made clear in her speech on the steps of Downing Street, the vote was a choice for wider change – to make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few, but for every one of us.

This does not mean we are no longer a proud member of the family of European nations. As the Prime Minister has made clear, we may be leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe. I am confident that the powerful cultural and social ties which bind us together will endure long into the future.

Nor does it mean that we do not wish the EU to succeed: the future prosperity of the EU is profoundly in our national interest and that of the wider world, which is why we are optimistic of a broad and comprehensive trade deal that is in all of our interests.

And crucially, our vote to leave the EU does not mean that we are retreating from the global stage. As Prime Minister May said to President Xi during her visit in January, we are seizing this opportunity to become an ever-more outward-looking, global Britain…

…a Britain that is free to strike our own comprehensive trade deals with nations around the world, including, of course, China…

…while continuing to work together with our international partners to tackle head on the global challenges we will face.

This is what the British people voted for, and that is what the UK Government is committed to delivering.

Guiding principles of the negotiations

It might be useful therefore if I explain the terms of the agreement that we are seeking for our future relationship with the EU, as set out by the Prime Minister in her Mansion House speech in March this year.

First, the agreement we reach with the EU must respect the result of the referendum. It was a vote not just to take control of our borders, laws and money, but a vote for wider change, so that no community in Britain would ever be left behind again.

Second, the new agreement we reach with the EU must endure. After Brexit both the UK and the EU want to forge ahead with building a better future for our people, and not find ourselves back at the negotiating table because things have broken down.

Third, it must protect people’s jobs and security. People in the UK voted for a new and different relationship with Europe, but while the means may change, our shared goals have not – to work together to grow our economies and keep our people safe.

Fourth, it must be consistent with the kind of country we want to be, a modern, open, outward-looking, tolerant, European democracy. A nation of pioneers, innovators, explorers and creators. A country that celebrates our history and diversity, confident of our place in the world; that meets its obligations to our near neighbours and friends and partners further away. A country that is proud to stand up for its values.

And fifth, in doing all of these things, the agreement should strengthen our union of nations, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales; as well as our union of people.

Our future partnership

So these are the five tests for the deal that we will negotiate

  • implementing the decision of the British people
  • reaching an enduring solution
  • protecting our security and prosperity
  • delivering an outcome that is consistent with the kind of country we want to be
  • bringing our country together, strengthening the precious union of all our people

In terms of the economic partnership we are seeking, we are clear that as the UK is leaving the European Union, we will no longer be members of its single market or its customs union.

But what we are seeking is the broadest and deepest possible agreement that covers more sectors and co-operates more fully than any other Free Trade Agreement.

We want an economic partnership that delivers the maximum possible benefits for both the UK and EU economies, while respecting the integrity of each other’s institutions and autonomy.

I believe this is achievable because it is in the EU’s interests as well as ours. While the EU is the UK’s biggest market, the UK is also a big market for the EU, so I am confident we can reach an agreement.

And in terms of our future security partnership, we have been clear that our commitment to the defence of Europe is unconditional and immoveable. As we have seen recently with events in Syria, Russia and elsewhere, the threats we face do not recognise the borders of individual nations or discriminate between them.

And our security interests do not stop at the edge of our continent.

The UK is investing in critical capabilities including

  • our nuclear deterrent
  • our two new aircraft carriers
  • our world class special forces and intelligence agencies

We are a leading contributor to international missions around the world and we bring to the table influence and impact that comes from our full range of global relationships.

And so am I confident we can reach an agreement.

Status of negotiations

So while the negotiations have covered many complex issues, we are making good progress.

The UK and the EU recently reached an agreement on the terms of a time-limited implementation period from next year, providing certainty for both businesses and citizens.

The UK will no longer be a Member State of the European Union, but market access will continue on current terms. Common rules will remain in place until the end of the period, meaning businesses will be able to trade on the same terms until the end of 2020.

This is a decisive step forward that not only provides stability in the short term, but represents the beginning of life outside the European Union – serving as a platform on which we build our future relationship not just with the EU, but with other countries too.

For we are absolutely clear that in leaving the European Union, the UK will not retreat from the global stage.

Far from it, as a country united at home, we will be stronger abroad, and that means continuing to engage closely with our key partners around the world.

That is why we are clear that China will remain an increasingly important partner to the UK.

During the implementation period, we will be free to negotiate, ratify and sign trade deals with new partners, such as China, while continuing to benefit from the EU’s existing agreements.

This will benefit not just the many businesses in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland looking for new growth markets, but Chinese firms too – boosting the prosperity of us all.

And so we hope this agreement on the implementation period will be an important step towards finalising the full Withdrawal Agreement by October this year.

It is in this spirit that negotiations continue with a positive, upbeat vision for life outside the EU that maximises the opportunities available, not just to the whole of the United Kingdom, but to our global partners too.

Global Britain

But if we are to deliver that vision – a global Britain that, standing united at home, not only tackles future challenges head on, but also confidently seizes new opportunities – countries such as China will play a critical role.

As the Prime Minister made clear during her visit, we are seizing the opportunity to become an ever-more outward-looking country, deepening our trade relations with nations around the world, including China.

And we begin from strong foundations. The UK is the sixth largest economy in the world; we are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council; the biggest European defence spender in NATO, with significant military capabilities and a proven readiness to deploy them in defence of our interests; home to world leading universities that attract the best talent from around the globe; top class research and cutting-edge innovation in every field which is the envy of the world; and thanks to institutions like the BBC and the NHS, the greatest soft power of any nation on the planet.

Our relationship with China is already broad and deep, delivering real benefits for both countries – but it can go further still.

For instance, there are huge trade opportunities in China that we want to help businesses from all four parts of the UK take advantage of.

Total trade in goods and services between the UK and China in 2017 was £67 billion – a 13.8 per cent increase from 2016; UK exports to China have grown by 68 per cent since 2010; UK firms are leaders in China’s markets in financial services; and China is expected to be one of the UK’s largest foreign investors by 2020.

We warmly welcome Premier Li Keqiang’s announcements last month that China is continuing to “open the door” to foreign trade and investment. We look forward to continuing to work with the Chinese government to make progress on market access and remove barriers to trade, in order to realise our joint ambition of an open global economy that works for all.

We are also working together with China to confront global and regional security challenges, such as keeping up the pressure of sanctions on North Korea and co-signing the 2016 Paris agreement to tackle climate change. Indeed, there is much more we can do together in the future to combat threats such as modern slavery and human trafficking, serious organised crime, and the trade in illegal wildlife products.

And as we cement our partnership, we must maintain and enhance those vital cultural links which underpin relations between us. It is worth remembering that there are more than 150,000 Chinese students studying in UK universities, as well as thousands of UK students here in China as well – many of whom are choosing to learn Mandarin.

During the PM’s visit we also launched Global Partners 2020, a new programme to establish links between future leaders in the UK and China. Indeed, it is by building such links, and by working with groups such as Chevening alumni, that we can enhance and expand these links well into the future…

…and in doing so, carry on down that path towards the future of a global Britain that is China’s strong partner on the world stage…

…and as the Prime Minister made clear during her visit in January, write the new chapter of the ‘Golden Era’ together.

Conclusion

For our relationship with China is, and will remain, a clear priority for the UK Government.

We are fully committed to our Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for the twenty-first century, addressing rising global challenges; building thriving economies of the future; and enhancing further the already strong links between our people and our businesses.

I am confident therefore that we can deliver on this bold vision for a Britain outside the EU that remains open for business and is the same outward-looking, globally minded country that we always have been.

If we are to succeed in doing so however, it will be in large part down to the hard work and efforts of many of you gathered in this room.

You provide the cultural and social bedrock which underpins bilateral relations between our two countries – and I have seen during my visit how the UK and China remain deeply committed to our comprehensive agenda for bilateral cooperation.

In short, you are pivotal to the success that global Britain can, and in my view will, become.

That is why I am confident that the ‘Golden Era’ will go from strength to strength as we head into the future together.

Thank you very much.

Published 10 April 2018

09/04/2018

BREXIT : Speech by Phil Hogan at seminar on “EU-27 perspective on the future EU-UK relationship” at the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU

Ambassador Kelleher, President Mac Craith, members of the diplomatic corps, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure to be invited to give the keynote speech to this seminar this morning and to commend the Irish Permanent Representation and DCU’s Brexit Institute for the initiative.

We have arrived at a point in the Brexit discussions where it is appropriate to take stock.  The terms of the United Kingdom’s separation are agreed, as well as the bulk of the Transition Treaty – although some knotty problems remain – and the starting positions have been laid out by the EU and Prime Minister May for the post-Brexit arrangement.

I would like to consider progress so far, bearing in mind that neither party has negotiated anything like this before.

This has been a journey into the unknown and, for the EU, it has had the added importance of providing a precedent if ever another member felt this was a wise course to follow !

But, frankly, that hardly seems likely – and is now far less likely than it was before Britain’s referendum vote.  Because one thing we have already learned from Brexit is that the UK does not have a better idea: it does not have a replacement for the Union as a way to improve the life quality of its citizens, its businesses, and its standing in the world.

Yes, it will leave the Union but it only wants to go some of the way towards leaving.  We can see, now that things have become clearer, that there is a lot of the Union that the UK wants to retain.  An awful lot.

You might say it doesn’t want to change its EU outfit, just its shoes.

The first element in the stock-taking, therefore, should be that the Union has kept its promise to the UK.  The Union promised to help the UK withdraw in an orderly, managed way and, under the leadership of President Juncker and President Tusk and with the support of the European Parliament, it is well on the way to doing so.

It has done this by negotiating in plain sight, so to speak.  At each step of the way it has made public its objectives, its suggestions on phasing, on timetable, and on the details of what is at stake.  Michel Barnier has ensured that our institutions and citizens, and that includes those in the UK, know what is going on.

And this brings me to my first observation.

The “unknown” element in Brexit is almost over.  The United Kingdom is now, in this negotiation, to all intents and purposes a third country.  The post-Brexit arrangement that remains to be negotiated is in effect a trade agreement, something with which the EU is familiar.

Speech continued

A second observation is that the EU has presented a disciplined and united front, despite internal difficulties such as the long inter-regnum in Germany following last year’s election.   The Union has acted as one.

Indeed, it might not be going too far to say that, in responding to the UK decision to leave and become again a third country, the value of the EU, and its solidarity, has revealed itself.

And this augurs well for our future in a world that seems to have changed massively even in the twenty months since the UK’s referendum vote – changed with the heightened security risks posed by Russia, changed with the new “America first” trade behaviour of the United States and the incipient trade war between the US and China.

On a personal, or should I say “on an Irish”, note, let me pay tribute here to the support that Ireland has received from its twenty-six partners.  It is well-known that Ireland’s trade with the UK is large and Ireland is steeling itself for a blow.  But there is another aspect to Brexit that is even more important.

I refer of course to the land border between Ireland and the United Kingdom.  Since the Good Friday agreement in 1998, the role of this border in the day-to-day life of our citizens has diminished remarkably.  This is for the better.  But twenty years is a short time and the role of the border in our history, our attitudes, and, yes, our politics is still vivid – it is like the touch-paper of a firework.

The EU spotted immediately that Brexit threatened to bring the border back to life and reignite our troubles, and insisted from the outset that Brexit had to take place in a way that ensured there was no return to a hard border.  The EU has been constant in its support.

The December agreement, confirmed in March, sets down the manner by which it will be achieved if the UK is unable to develop what we might call a cyber border that meets the EU’s needs for its external border.

Put clearly, the whole island of Ireland will remain in regulatory alignment with the EU if the UK is unable to develop and realise a satisfactory cyber alternative.   This is what is meant by the “fall-back option” and this agreement is a signal achievement.

So, as I say, the Twenty Seven are acting as one.  In the UK, on the other hand, the one acts as many.

What I have called the London-London part of the negotiation has been a lively conversation between several opposing camps, although it is showing signs of calming recently.

This may be because the different camps are preparing for battles to come, or are concentrating on other things like the local elections on May 3, or consider the clock to have been reset to December 2020 by the draft Withdrawal Treaty.

It may be calmer but there does not seem to have been a reconciliation between the opposing camps.  Doubtless there is a good deal going on behind the scenes.

The government under Prime Minister May has proved adroit so far at avoiding hotspots, at least on procedural matters.  From the outset it has played a long game and this probably will not change.

Indeed, at times it has seemed as if the UK is reluctant to get on with the work.  But I think that impression may be more optical than real.

The UK, for whatever reason, seems happier to keep the negotiation at the level of officials, who, according to their brief, must work below the radar.

The size and the detail of the draft Withdrawal Treaty, for example, demonstrates the intensity of work that has been going on.  When one considers this, it becomes clear that the UK has been fully engaged, even if its engagement at the political level – leaving aside soundbites – seems muted.

And now we have arrived at the final phase – negotiation of the post-Brexit agreement between the EU and the UK.  Now, as I say, we are entering a trade negotiation.  And in this phase, for the first time, starting positions are clear.

On the EU side we have the position probably best summed up in Michel Barnier’s staircase diagram, which shows how each of the United Kingdom’s red lines closes off an option until the only possible agreement is a free trade arrangement of the Canada or South Korea type.  Although the EU has indicated that if the red lines were to be change, another outcome might be possible.

The EU’s position contains the proviso that its readiness to initiate work towards a “balanced, ambitious and wide-ranging free trade agreement” requires there to be guarantees for a level playing field for businesses.  And the EU’s negotiating document offers guidelines on how an unfair competitive advantage for the UK may be avoided.

On the UK side we have Prime Minister May’s speech at the Mansion House in March, which lists those parts of EU membership that the UK would like to retain when it leaves.  It was the most substantive speech by Prime Minister May since the referendum and listed the hard facts and realities that the UK has to confront.

At another time, in another circumstance, Prime Minister May’s Mansion House speech would have been a strong argument for joining, not leaving, the EU.  And this is an impression that is further strengthened when one considers, for example, the UK’s expressions of disappointment when it realises that as a third country it will be excluded from Galileo – the EU satellite system.

I make this point not to argue that the UK should change its mind.  Its citizens have decided to leave the EU and the UK will revert to third country status in about 355 days from now – or 354 depending on how you count.  Its flag will be hauled down from before the EU’s institutions; the Twenty-Eight will become the Twenty-Seven; and the number of EU citizens will reduce by 13 per cent.  Also, for any geographers present, we shall be six per cent smaller.

The Union has accepted this.

It is difficult to believe that any country would wish to engage in a policy of divergence from their neighbourhood countries – particularly from 27 neighbouring countries. But that’s the way it is.

Also, the EU might have its own preference between the three possible outcomes on a final agreement – free trade agreement, customs union, single market.  We might have a preference but we have to realise that there is nothing we can do to realise it. The UK has decided that it wants a free trade agreement and that must be our focus.

I make the point to underline the central attitude of the EU during the third and final phase of negotiations.  The UK cannot expect to retain the benefits of EU membership when it is no longer a member.  Galileo and many of the desired benefits listed by Prime Minister May are facilities for EU members only.

We can think of the EU as a piece of intellectual capital, something with similar characteristics to patented research results.  Member states use this intellectual capital for their betterment – economic, social, and political – but it remains the property of the EU.

By leaving the EU, the UK loses the right to use the EU’s intellectual capital.  It really is as simple as that. And the member states have an interest in ensuring that this is so, since if we allow others to use it, its value to us, the holders, is reduced.

Consideration of the final phase of the separation – the free trade agreement – brings me to a couple of further observations.

The first is to repeat a point I made in passing a few minutes ago.  The draft Withdrawal Treaty resets the clock to 2020 for this final phase.  Yes, there must be a political document before the autumn which describes the objectives of the trade negotiation.  But, given the UK’s preference for the long game, we should not expect any rush to clarity on its part.

One result of this is that we can expect the uncertainties that characterise the UK’s position to continue.  This will make it useful for the EU to keep reminding itself of the one thing that is completely certain – the UK is not going to change its mind on EU membership.  I, for one, cannot imagine any circumstances in which the UK will change its mind on the desirability of EU membership – not for many years, if ever.

The EU must therefore see the negotiation on the free trade agreement for what it is – a trade negotiation with a third country in which both parties will be trying to do the best for their citizens.

The UK will be looking for a deal that works best for Britain.  The EU will seek to defend and advance the interests of its citizens.  It is on this basis that the EU has established its starting position.  It is on this basis that it should proceed.  The EU will remain clear-sighted.

I have one final observation – and, for this, I look at the Brexit negotiation from the United Kingdom point of view rather than from the EU’s.  So far I have tried to steer away from a discussion about the UK’s own attitude to the discussions and about the apparent conflicts in its position.

The negotiation for the post-Brexit free trade agreement between the EU and the UK will be the UK’s first step into “Global Britain” – that network of trade deals with third parties which the UK expects will achieve the double objective of offsetting any losses in its trade with the EU and bringing increased benefits.

In her Mansion House speech Prime Minister May cited Global Britain and the benefits it will bring as a main argument against a customs union or single market.  She is confident that regaining its power to negotiate trade agreements will enable the UK to achieve greater well-being for its people through wider trade.  One hopes she is right for the sake of UK citizens.

But there are stubborn facts that over-shadow a rosy picture.

  • Global Britain will mean for the United Kingdom a return to medium-sized nation status.Yes it will regain the sovereignty to seek and strike agreements where it wants but with reduced bargaining power, reduced security of its markets and supply chains, and a friction and cost added to each trade shipment to the EU, its biggest trade partner.
  • Probably, in time if not immediately, there will be an increased sensitivity of the £ Sterling to Global Britain’s trading performance. The UK trade balance was a headline feature in the Sixties, often used to justify policy changes to reduce consumption.Will this be a feature of Global Britain ?
  • Global Britain expects to rapidly agree a trade deal with the US. Indeed it is one of the assumptions on which its calculations about the economic effects of Brexit rest. I imagine that the US basis for such a rapid agreement would be its desired TTIP – with the requirement of access for its agricultural products, some of which are resisted by EU (and UK) consumers.You do not need me to point out that the EU refused to accept the TTIP desired by the US.
  • The UK expects to be able to roll forward all trade agreements to which it is a party because of its EU membership. Sometimes this may be easy, sometimes not. Many contain tariff-free quotas, sometimes of extraordinary sensitivity. The EU’s agreement with Canada, for example, contains tariff-free quotas for beef (important for Canada) and dairy produce (important for the EU).Such things are not lightly agreed and take years to negotiate.
  • Speaking of Canada, reminds us of the Commonwealth. Yes, the Commonwealth has a common language and similar legal systems to the UK which recommends Commonwealth countries as trading partners.Yes, it is growing rapidly. But it is not a cohesive bloc and UK-EU trade, where legal and language differences have surely been absorbed after 45 years, is six times higher than UK exports to the ten Commonwealth countries for which trade data are tracked by the UK’s Office for National Statistics.

Stepping into Global Britain is stepping into a difficult world. And there will be a huge gap between hope and experience.  As I say, one hopes that Prime Minister May’s confidence is not misplaced.

It remains only for me to again thank the organisers – the Irish Permanent Representation and the DCU Brexit Institute – for the invitation and the opportunity to deliver these remarks. You have assembled a very impressive line-up of participants for what I’m sure will be a fascinating, informative and valuable seminar. I wish you well in your deliberations.

Thank you.

09/04/2018

BREXIT : European Commission Publication – Withdrawal of the United Kingdom and EU rules on fisheries and aquacultur

09/04/2018

BREXIT : House of Commons of the United Kingdom updates

VAT: EU proposals for reform and implications of Brexit

Urges the Government to set out how it intends to guarantee collection of VAT on imports entering the UK via Ireland

European Social Fund

Argues that any gap in payments between the existing European Social Fund and a new fund would be disastrous

The future UK–EU relationship

Sets out keys tests by which any deal agreed by October 2018 must be judged

 

Brexit: Gibraltar update

Looks at how the Brexit negotiations will deal with Gibraltar’s unique status as a UK external territory within the EU

 

 

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