22/05/2017 – GENERAL AFFAIRS COUNCIL
I would like to report the outcome of the first formal meeting of the European Council of 27, which took place on 29th April. Our main purpose was to adopt political guidelines for the Brexit negotiations. A mandate that sets out the overall principles, objectives and process. And a mandate that the European Council will update as necessary, as the talks get under way.
A key element of the guidelines is the need to conduct the talks on the basis of a ‘phased approach’. This means simply that there will be no discussion of the framework for our future relations with Britain, before sufficient progress is made on ensuring an orderly withdrawal. Leaders fully supported this logic.
To ensure an orderly withdrawal, we first and foremost need to address the situation of more than four million people, whose lives will be directly impacted by Brexit, on both sides. In a very real way, their futures depend on the outcome of these talks. It is our particular responsibility to secure the best guarantees for citizens – citizens of the Union – and for their families. That means guarantees that are effective, enforceable, non-discriminatory and comprehensive, accompanied by simple and smooth administrative procedures. There is a need to act quickly, and so we are ready. Now we must move from sharing objectives to actually ensuring that citizens get the necessary guarantees. That’s also why I welcome the fact that the Commission has already listed a number of detailed requirements.
The second priority in the first phase is the need to agree that all financial commitments undertaken by the EU of 28 will also be honoured by the UK. And thirdly, in order to protect the peace and reconciliation process described by the Good Friday Agreement, we must aim to avoid a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Only once there is sufficient progress on these priorities, can we proceed to the next phase of the negotiations about our future relations. And it will be for the European Council of 27 to assess and decide if – and when – we have achieved sufficient progress.
When it comes to our future, the European Council shared the United Kingdom’s desire to establish a close partnership. It is obvious, however, that a relationship between the European Union and a non-Member State cannot offer the same benefits as EU membership. It is clear that a free trade agreement between the EU and the UK, which is what the UK has chosen, even if it is ambitious and wide-ranging, cannot mean participation in the Single Market or its parts. And at the same time, the UK must be aware that any free trade agreement will have to ensure a level playing field, and encompass safeguards against unfair competitive advantages through, inter alia, tax, social, environmental and regulatory measures and practices. Today it is too early to tell much more about our common future, but we will make our guidelines more precise when the time comes, namely when sufficient progress in the first phase is achieved.
Leaders responded with the urgency that the situation requires. There will be very little time to conclude withdrawal talks within the framework foreseen by the Treaty. Time is of the essence here, and much is at stake.
Next Monday, the Council will adopt a set of negotiating directives, proposed by the chief negotiator, on the basis of the guidelines we adopted on April 29th. These cover the three issues I have just mentioned, plus a number of other matters that need to be addressed in the first phase of the negotiations.
Since the referendum in June last year, we – the EU27 – have been united, consistent, and demonstrated solidarity with one another. What was – and remains – most important for me, is that our conduct in these talks will show the European Union at its best: in terms of unity, political solidarity and fairness towards the United Kingdom.
Finally, I can only praise the European Parliament and its leaders for the role they have played. Sincere thanks and appreciation for your constructive assistance. This bodes well – not only for the future of the negotiations, but our future as a Union of 27. Thank you.
IFA PRESIDENT MEETS EU BREXIT NEGOTIATOR MICHEL BARNIER
IFA President Joe Healy met the EU’s Chief negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier, in Dublin this morning at an event hosted by the EU Commission. It was be the second time Joe Healy has met Michel Barnier, following a meeting in Brussels last month.
Joe Healy said, “Michel Barnier displayed a good understanding of our issues when we last met. I emphasised that minimising the disruption to trade must be included as a priority in the discussions on the border. In addition, it is critical that the second phase of negotiations, which will deal with the future relationship between the EU and UK, commence as soon as possible”.
He said, “It is also critically important that the strongest trading relationship is maintained with the UK, which takes over 40% of our food exports, the value of the UK market is upheld, and that there is a fully-funded CAP after 2020”.
Meanwhile, IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods hosted a delegation from the European Peoples’ Party on his farm in Co Wicklow later this evening to discuss the implications of Brexit for Irish farming.
Minister of State Andrew Doyle will led the delegation which is attending a two-day meeting of the EPP in Wicklow. The group included three Irish MEPs – Mairead McGuinness, Brian Hayes and Sean Kelly – and the Chairman of the EPP Manfred Weber.
Angus Woods said, “As Livestock Chairman, I set out the very serious implications for the Irish beef and livestock sector. The UK is our most valuable market and this has to be to the forefront of the negotiations on Brexit”.
SPEECH BY MICHEL BARNIER AT THE JOINT HOUSES OF THE OIREACHTAS, DUBLIN
Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas,
I am happy and honoured to address both Houses and to greet you, as the representatives of the people of Ireland, in all your political diversity.
I take this honour as a responsibility.
The responsibility to listen to all those who will be affected by the decision of the UK to leave the European Union.
The responsibility to listen to your concerns, build our positions together, negotiate in our common interest.
The responsibility to explain that we need each other: that Ireland is stronger in the Union.
And the EU is stronger with Ireland.
Your country has had deep historical, cultural and intellectual ties to continental Europe for many centuries.
In the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, Irish Colleges were set up around Europe: from Madrid – where I was yesterday –, to Leuven, Paris, Rome and Prague.
They contributed to writing the history of Ireland and the history of Europe. And they spread Irish culture to the continent.
Centuries later, in 1972, the people of Ireland massively voted to take part in the European project.
I was 21 at the time. France had a referendum on the accession of Ireland, the UK, Denmark and Norway.
It was my very first vote. And I campaigned for a “yes” vote.
For the UK’s accession, back then, voting yes was not so easy for a member of the French Gaullist party. But I did it with my full heart.
And I never regretted that vote. I regret that Brexit is happening now.
I would have liked to have seen the UK staying in Europe, with Ireland and all the 26 other Member States. But we are where we are.
Since 1972, we have accomplished great things together. Read Speech in full here
IFA PRESIDENT TO MEET EU BREXIT NEGOTIATOR MICHEL BARNIER
IFA President Joe Healy is meeting the EU’s Chief negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier, in Dublin this morning at an event hosted by the EU Commission. It will be the second time Joe Healy has met Michel Barnier, following a meeting in Brussels last month.
Joe Healy said, “Michel Barnier displayed a good understanding of our issues when we last met. I will be emphasising that minimising the disruption to trade is included as a priority in the discussions on the border. In addition, it is critical that the second phase of negotiations, which will deal with the future relationship between the EU and UK, commence as soon as possible”.
He said, “It is also critically important that the strongest trading relationship is maintained with the UK, which takes over 40% of our food exports, the value of the UK market is upheld, and that there is a fully-funded CAP after 2020”.
Meanwhile, IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods will host a delegation from the European Peoples’ Party on his farm in Co Wicklow later today to discuss the implications of Brexit for Irish farming.
Minister of State Andrew Doyle will lead the delegation which is attending a two-day meeting of the EPP in Wicklow. The group will include three Irish MEPs – Mairead McGuinness, Brian Hayes and Sean Kelly – and the Chairman of the EPP Manfred Weber.
Angus Woods said, “As Livestock Chairman, I will be setting out the very serious implications for the Irish beef and livestock sector. The UK is our most valuable market and this has to be to the forefront of the negotiations on Brexit”.
BREXIT: MEPS WANT EU AND UK TO TAKE CAR OF CITIZENS’ RIGHTS FIRST
SPEECH BY MICHEL BARNIER AT THE 7TH STATE OF THE UNION CONFERENCE, FLORANCE
Protecting Citizens’ Rights in the Negotiations with the UK
Good afternoon to all of you.
I will speak in English – obviously, I wish to be understood by the people who speak French, especially two days before this crucial election in my country. But it is equally important to be understood by the British people. [Applause]
First of all, let me first extend my warm thanks to the European University Institute in Florence, and its President Renaud Dehousse, for having offered me the opportunity to speak before you today.
I am also happy to see Commissioner Jourová, who will be speaking shortly after me.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the State of the Union conference has become a major forum for debate.
And debate on the future of European citizenship is very much needed, now more than ever.
My topic today is the importance of the rights of European citizens and the priority that they will be given in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.
In particular, free movement of people is at the heart of European citizenship. The principle was intensively discussed during the United Kingdom’s referendum campaign.
Today, it would seem that this principle is under attack.
20th Report of Session 2016-17 – published 3 May 2017 – HL Paper 169
Read Chapeters 3 to 7 here
The College of Commissioners has today sent a recommendation to the Council to open the Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom. It includes draft negotiating directives. This legal mandate follows the adoption on Saturday by the European Council of political guidelines.
Today’s text complements the guidelines and provides the necessary details to conduct the first phase of the negotiations. This reflects the two-phased approach put forward by the leaders of the 27 Member States and prioritises those matters which are necessary to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union.
The negotiating directives cover 4 main areas. Safeguarding the status and rights of citizens – EU27 citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU27 – and their families is the first priority of the negotiations. The Commission’s recommendation also states clearly that agreement on the principles of the financial settlement must be reached before it is possible to move on to the second phase of the negotiations. The negotiations should not undermine in any way the Good Friday Agreement. Solutions should be found to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. Finally, arrangements must be found regarding dispute settlement and the governance of the withdrawal agreement.
Michel Barnier, Union negotiator for the Article 50 negotiations with the UK, said “With our recommendation today, we are on track to make sure that the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union happens in an orderly fashion. This is in the best interests of everyone. As soon as the UK is ready, we shall start negotiating in a constructive manner.”
Today’s recommendation will be sent to the Council, where it is set to be adopted by the General Affairs Council on 22 May.
On 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union. The European Council adopted its political guidelines on 29 April 2017. The negotiations will, at all times, be conducted in light of the European Council guidelines and in line with the Council’s negotiating directives and with due regard to the European Parliament’s resolution of 5 April 2017.
For More Information
Text of the recommendations
The Special European Council (Article 50), in an EU 27 format, adopted the guidelines for the Brexit negotiations.
“I want to underline the outstanding unity of all the 27 leaders on the guidelines for our negotiations with the UK. (…) We now have unanimous support from all the 27 member states and the EU institutions, giving us a strong political mandate for these negotiations.”
President Donald Tusk at the press conference after the summit
The guidelines will define the framework for negotiations and set out the overall EU positions and principles during the talks. The European Council will update the guidelines in the course of the negotiations as necessary.
In the guidelines, the European Council states that the EU27 willkeep its unity and act as one during the negotiations. Leaders:
“Negotiations under Article 50 TEU will be conducted in transparency and as a single package. In accordance with the principle that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, individual items cannot be settled separately.”
European Council (Art. 50) guidelines for Brexit negotiations
Heads of state and government agreed that the first phaseof negotiations should aim to:
The European Council will monitor progress closely and determine when sufficient progress has been achieved to allow negotiations to proceed to the next phase.
An agreement on a future relationship between the EU and the UK can only be concluded once the UK has become a third country. However, leaders declare readiness, during a second phase of negotiations, to start preliminary and preparatory discussions on the framework for that future relationship.
The two year timeframe set out in Article 50 ends on 29 March 2019.
“Citizens who have built their lives on the basis of rights flowing from the British membership of the EU face the prospect of losing those rights. (…) With this in mind, we must proceed according to a phased approach giving priority to an orderly withdrawal.”
European Council (Art. 50) guidelines for Brexit negotiations
The European Council stressed the importance of safeguarding the rights of citizens affected by Brexit. They highlighted the need to avoid a legal vacuum for business, and referred to a single financial settlement that should ensure the EU and the UK respect their obligations.
In view of the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland, the European Council stressed the need to support the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process in Northern Ireland.
“Flexible and imaginative solutions will be required, including with the aim of avoiding a hard border, while respecting the integrity of the Union legal order.”
European Council (Art. 50) guidelines for Brexit negotiations
Until it leaves the Union, the United Kingdom remains a full member of the EU, subject to all rights and obligations set out in the Treaties and under EU law. All ongoing EU business must continue to proceed as smoothly as possible at 28, and the negotiations with the United Kingdom will be kept separate from ongoing Union business, and shall not interfere with its progress.
After the adoption of the guidelines by the European Council and based on a recommendation from the Commission, the General Affairs Council on 22 May 2017 is expected to:
On 29 March 2017 the UK formally notified to the European Council its intention to leave the EU.
“We regret that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union, but we are ready for the process that we now will have to follow. (…) In these negotiations the Union will act as one and preserve its interests. Our first priority will be to minimise the uncertainty caused by the decision of the United Kingdom for our citizens, businesses and member states.”
Statement of the European Council, 29 March 2017
On 29 March 2017, the European Council received the notification by the United Kingdom of its intention to withdraw from the European Union and Euratom. This allows for the opening of negotiations as foreseen by the Treaty.
European integration has brought peace and prosperity to Europe and allowed for an unprecedented level and scope of cooperation on matters of common interest in a rapidly changing world. Therefore, the Union’s overall objective in these negotiations will be to preserve its interests, those of its citizens, its businesses and its Member States.
The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the Union creates significant uncertainties that have the potential to cause disruption, in particular in the United Kingdom but also, to a lesser extent, in other Member States. Citizens who have built their lives on the basis of rights flowing from the British membership of the EU face the prospect of losing those rights. Businesses and other stakeholders will lose the predictability and certainty that come with EU law. It will also have an impact on public authorities. With this in mind, we must proceed according to a phased approach giving priority to an orderly withdrawal. National authorities, businesses and other stakeholders should take all necessary steps to prepare for the consequences of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal.
Throughout these negotiations the Union will maintain its unity and act as one with the aim of reaching a result that is fair and equitable for all Member States and in the interest of its citizens. It will be constructive and strive to find an agreement. This is in the best interest of both sides. The Union will work hard to achieve that outcome, but it will prepare itself to be able to handle the situation also if the negotiations were to fail.
These guidelines define the framework for negotiations under Article 50 TEU and set out the overall positions and principles that the Union will pursue throughout the negotiation. In this context, the European Council welcomes the resolution of the European Parliament of 5 April 2017. The European Council will remain permanently seized of the matter, and will update these guidelines in the course of the negotiations as necessary. Negotiating directives will be adjusted accordingly.
1. The European Council will continue to base itself on the principles set out in the statement of Heads of State or Government and of the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission on 29 June 2016. It reiterates its wish to have the United Kingdom as a close partner in the future. It further reiterates that any agreement with the United Kingdom will have to be based on a balance of rights and obligations, and ensure a level playing field. Preserving the integrity of the Single Market excludes participation based on a sector-by-sector approach. A non-member of the Union, that does not live up to the same obligations as a member, cannot have the same rights and enjoy the same benefits as a member. In this context, the European Council welcomes the recognition by the British Government that the four freedoms of the Single Market are indivisible and that there can be no “cherry picking”. The Union will preserve its autonomy as regards its decision-making as well as the role of the Court of Justice of the European Union.
2. Negotiations under Article 50 TEU will be conducted in transparency and as a single package. In accordance with the principle that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, individual items cannot be settled separately. The Union will approach the negotiations with unified positions, and will engage with the United Kingdom exclusively through the channels set out in these guidelines and in the negotiating directives. So as not to undercut the position of the Union, there will be no separate negotiations between individual Member States and the United Kingdom on matters pertaining to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union.
3. The core principles set out above should apply equally to the negotiations on an orderly withdrawal, to any preliminary and preparatory discussions on the framework for a future relationship, and to any form of transitional arrangements.
4. On the date of withdrawal, the Treaties will cease to apply to the United Kingdom, to those of its overseas countries and territories currently associated to the Union, and to territories for whose external relations the United Kingdom is responsible. The main purpose of the negotiations will be to ensure the United Kingdom’s orderly withdrawal so as to reduce uncertainty and, to the extent possible, minimise disruption caused by this abrupt change.
To that effect, the first phase of negotiations will aim to:
The European Council will monitor progress closely and determine when sufficient progress has been achieved to allow negotiations to proceed to the next phase.
5. While an agreement on a future relationship between the Union and the United Kingdom as such can only be finalised and concluded once the United Kingdom has become a third country, Article 50 TEU requires to take account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union in the arrangements for withdrawal. To this end, an overall understanding on the framework for the future relationship should be identified during a second phase of the negotiations under Article 50 TEU. We stand ready to engage in preliminary and preparatory discussions to this end in the context of negotiations under Article 50 TEU, as soon as the European Council decides that sufficient progress has been made in the first phase towards reaching a satisfactory agreement on the arrangements for an orderly withdrawal.
6. To the extent necessary and legally possible, the negotiations may also seek to determine transitional arrangements which are in the interest of the Union and, as appropriate, to provide for bridges towards the foreseeable framework for the future relationship in the light of the progress made. Any such transitional arrangements must be clearly defined, limited in time, and subject to effective enforcement mechanisms. Should a time-limited prolongation of Union acquis be considered, this would require existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures to apply.
7. The two year timeframe set out in Article 50 TEU ends on 29 March 2019.
8. The right for every EU citizen, and of his or her family members, to live, to work or to study in any EU Member State is a fundamental aspect of the European Union. Along with other rights provided under EU law, it has shaped the lives and choices of millions of people. Agreeing reciprocal guarantees to safeguard the status and rights derived from EU law at the date of withdrawal of EU and UK citizens, and their families, affected by the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the Union will be the first priority for the negotiations. Such guarantees must be effective, enforceable, non-discriminatory and comprehensive, including the right to acquire permanent residence after a continuous period of five years of legal residence. Citizens should be able to exercise their rights through smooth and simple administrative procedures.
9. Also, the United Kingdom leaving the Union will impact EU businesses trading with and operating in the United Kingdom and UK businesses trading with and operating in the Union. Similarly, it may affect those who have entered into contracts and business arrangements or take part in EU-funded programmes based on the assumption of continued British EU membership. Negotiations should seek to prevent a legal vacuum once the Treaties cease to apply to the United Kingdom and, to the extent possible, address uncertainties.
10. A single financial settlement – including issues resulting from the MFF as well as those related to the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Development Fund (EDF) and the European Central Bank (ECB) – should ensure that the Union and the United Kingdom both respect the obligations resulting from the whole period of the UK membership in the Union. The settlement should cover all commitments as well as liabilities, including contingent liabilities.
11. The Union has consistently supported the goal of peace and reconciliation enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts, and continuing to support and protect the achievements, benefits and commitments of the Peace Process will remain of paramount importance. In view of the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland, flexible and imaginative solutions will be required, including with the aim of avoiding a hard border, while respecting the integrity of the Union legal order. In this context, the Union should also recognise existing bilateral agreements and arrangements between the United Kingdom and Ireland which are compatible with EU law.
12. The Union should agree with the United Kingdom on arrangements as regards the Sovereign Base Areas of the United Kingdom in Cyprus and recognise in that respect bilateral agreements and arrangements between the Republic of Cyprus and the United Kingdom which are compatible with EU law, in particular as regards safeguarding rights and interests of those EU citizens resident or working in the Sovereign Base Areas.
13. Following the withdrawal, the United Kingdom will no longer be covered by agreements concluded by the Union or by Member States acting on its behalf or by the Union and its Member States acting jointly. The Union will continue to have its rights and obligations in relation to international agreements. In this respect, the European Council expects the United Kingdom to honour its share of all international commitments contracted in the context of its EU membership. In such instances, a constructive dialogue with the United Kingdom on a possible common approach towards third country partners, international organisations and conventions concerned should be engaged.
14. The withdrawal agreement would also need to address potential issues arising from the withdrawal in other areas of cooperation, including judicial cooperation, law enforcement and security.
15. While the future location of the seats of EU agencies and facilities located in the United Kingdom is a matter for the 27 Member States to settle rapidly, arrangements should be found to facilitate their transfer.
16. Arrangements ensuring legal certainty and equal treatment should be found for all court procedures pending before the Court of Justice of the European Union upon the date of withdrawal that involve the United Kingdom or natural or legal persons in the United Kingdom. The Court of Justice of the European Union should remain competent to adjudicate in these procedures. Similarly, arrangements should be found for administrative procedures pending before the European Commission and Union agencies upon the date of the withdrawal that involve the United Kingdom or natural or legal persons in the United Kingdom. In addition, arrangements should be foreseen for the possibility of administrative or court proceedings to be initiated post-exit for facts that have occurred before the withdrawal date.
17. The withdrawal agreement should include appropriate dispute settlement and enforcement mechanisms regarding the application and interpretation of the withdrawal agreement, as well as duly circumscribed institutional arrangements allowing for the adoption of measures necessary to deal with situations not foreseen in the withdrawal agreement. This should be done bearing in mind the Union’s interest to effectively protect its autonomy and its legal order, including the role of the Court of Justice of the European Union.
18. The European Council welcomes and shares the United Kingdom’s desire to establish a close partnership between the Union and the United Kingdom after its departure. While a relationship between the Union and a non Member State cannot offer the same benefits as Union membership, strong and constructive ties will remain in both sides’ interest and should encompass more than just trade.
19. The British government has indicated that it will not seek to remain in the Single Market, but would like to pursue an ambitious free trade agreement with the European Union. Based on the Union’s interests, the European Council stands ready to initiate work towards an agreement on trade, to be finalised and concluded once the United Kingdom is no longer a Member State.
20. Any free trade agreement should be balanced, ambitious and wide-ranging. It cannot, however, amount to participation in the Single Market or parts thereof, as this would undermine its integrity and proper functioning. It must ensure a level playing field, notably in terms of competition and state aid, and in this regard encompass safeguards against unfair competitive advantages through, inter alia, tax, social, environmental and regulatory measures and practices.
21. Any future framework should safeguard financial stability in the Union and respect its regulatory and supervisory regime and standards and their application.
22. The EU stands ready to establish partnerships in areas unrelated to trade, in particular the fight against terrorism and international crime, as well as security, defence and foreign policy.
23. The future partnership must include appropriate enforcement and dispute settlement mechanisms that do not affect the Union’s autonomy, in particular its decision-making procedures.
24. After the United Kingdom leaves the Union, no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without the agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom.
25. Until it leaves the Union, the United Kingdom remains a full Member of the European Union, subject to all rights and obligations set out in the Treaties and under EU law, including the principle of sincere cooperation.
26. The European Council recognises the need, in the international context, to take into account the specificities of the United Kingdom as a withdrawing Member State, provided it respects its obligations and remains loyal to the Union’s interests while still a Member. Similarly the Union expects the United Kingdom to recognise the need of the 27 Member States to meet and discuss matters related to the situation after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom.
27. While the United Kingdom is still a member, all ongoing EU business must continue to proceed as smoothly as possible at 28. The European Council remains committed to drive forward with ambition the priorities the Union has set itself. Negotiations with the United Kingdom will be kept separate from ongoing Union business, and shall not interfere with its progress.
28. The European Council endorses the arrangements set out in the statement of 27 Heads of State or Government on 15 December 2016.
IFA President Joe Healy was in Brussels this morning ahead of the SPECIAL EU Heads of State Summit on BREXIT
“There is a real sense of history here in Brussels this morning as the 27 countries who will remain in the EU meet to discuss Brexit. In many ways it is a sad day for the EU but we need to maintain the closest possible trading relationship with the UK and a fully funded CAP,” Joe Healy said.
Speaking from Brussels where he is attending a meeting of the European farm group COPA, IFA President Joe Healy said there is an increasing realisation among farm bodies across Europe of the potential damaging implications of a hard Brexit.
Joe Healy said, “COPA President Martin Merrild, who spoke at IFA’s Brexit event on Monday, made a strong opening statement to the meeting here, on the implications for countries with significant exports to the UK, but also about the potential impact if product now going to the UK ends up back on the EU 27 market”.
On Wednesday, Joe Healy and representatives from the agri-food industry – Meat Industry Ireland, the Irish Dairy Industry Association and Food & Drink Ireland – held a meeting with the Taoiseach Enda Kenny where they outlined the serious ramifications for Irish agriculture and how Brexit represents the biggest threat in our lifetimes.
“The unified approach from the industry underlined to the Taoiseach just how serious a challenge Brexit poses. Farming and agri-food, which has an export value of over €11bn and which supports 300,000 jobs, is approaching the edge of a cliff and we need cool heads to prevail,” Joe Healy said.
IFA’s Brussels Office Director Liam MacHale said, “Tomorrow’s meeting is the culmination of extensive diplomatic activity since the UK vote last June. The approval of the EU 27 negotiating document will be the start of a new phase in the negotiations”.
Earlier this week, EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan addressed over 700 farmers in Goffs at IFA’s Brexit event.
IFA’s policy document has set out our three key objectives: maintaining a close trading relationship with the UK market; retaining the value of the market and securing a fully-funded CAP after 2020.
Commissioner Hogan, thank you for giving us a clearer picture of the current EU position in the Brexit negotiations.
We are fortunate to have an Irish Commissioner in the agriculture portfolio facing into these critical negotiations.
Commissioner, I know your job is to represent Europe’s farmers across all 27 Member States.
But I want you to know that Irish farmers – not only in this room, but right across the country – are depending on you to protect their interests at this critical time.
You and your colleagues cannot allow our livelihoods to be destroyed as a result of Brexit.
Mr President, Minister, First Vice-President of the European Parliament, MEPs, Members of the Oireachtas, public representatives, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this Forum today.
I want to thank the IFA for having organised this event and for the invitation to speak and to your new General Secretary, Damian McDonald, thank you for your introduction and for having set the scene.
Brexit is the most complex economic, political and in some ways cultural challenge to face Ireland, the UK, and the broader European Union in many generations.
It is an era-defining issue that we must each approach from a variety of interconnected perspectives. From the perspective of protecting the business foundations of the Irish and EU farming and agri-food sector; from the perspective of building a 27-member CAP without the UK; and of course, from the perspective of Irish citizens wanting the best for their families and the nation.
More than 600 farmers will pack into Goffs in Kildare tomorrow at the beginning of an important week for IFA’s Brexit campaign. EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan will hear a clear message on the outcome needed from the negotiations for the farming and food sectors.
On Thursday this week, Joe Healy will travel to Brussels to build support among farm leaders from across Europe for IFA’s campaign. The President of COPA, Martin Merrild will attend IFA’s Brexit event in Goffs and will have heard first-hand the concerns of Irish farmers.
As part of IFA’s campaign on Brexit, Joe Healy has already met Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, and the EU’s Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier.
Meanwhile, the IFA President has welcomed the positive outcome from Friday’s meeting between Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte and the Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Lokke Rasmussen. Read statement in full
An IFA delegation led by President Joe Healy met with The EU’s Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels this week.
The IFA President set out IFA’s Brexit priorities as spelled out in the recently launched policy document Brexit: The Imperatives for Irish Farmers and the Agri-food sector.
Speaking following the meeting, Joe Healy said the engagement had been very constructive, “It is clear that Mr. Barnier and his team have a very good understanding of Irish agriculture and the very real threats posed by Brexit,” he said.
The Council, meeting in an EU 27 format, will prepare for the European Council (Art.50) on 29 April 2017 by discussing the draft guidelines for the Brexit negotiations.
The guidelines, to be adopted by the European Council, will define the framework for negotiations with the UK and will set out the overall EU positions and principles.
This will be the first step in the Brexit process following the UK’s notification to the European Council of its intention to leave the EU, on 29 March 2017. The draft guidelines were submitted to the member states on 31 March 2017 by the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk.
IFA Chief Economist Rowena Dwyer has outlined the acute impact Brexit could have on Irish and European agriculture to a meeting of European farming organisations and co-operatives.
Rowena Dwyer told the meeting of COPA/COGECA representatives that a negative outcome to Brexit would seriously damage European trade, and she sought the support of the European farming organisations for IFA’s position that, if the UK exits the Single Market and Customs Union, there must be a Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the EU and UK, which would include the following specific elements for agriculture and food:
Speaking at the EU Commission Civil Dialogue Meeting in Brussels on beef this week, IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said:
Angus Woods said IFA highlighted the impact of Brexit on the Irish beef sector, pointing out that in the second half of 2016 producers took a price hit of €150m, mainly as a result of the Sterling devaluation.
He said IFA make it clear at the meeting that no other Member State, and no other sector, is as exposed in Brexit negotiations. The UK is our closet market, of high value, with similar preferences. He said the IFA has identified that, if the UK exits the Single Market and Customs Union, there must be a Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the EU and UK, which would include the following specific elements: Tariff-free trade for agricultural products and food, maintenance of equivalent standards on food safety, animal health, welfare and the environment, and the application of the Common External Tariff for imports to both the EU and UK.
The IFA Livestock Chairman said the UK is the market for 50% of Irish beef exports. “It’s a high-value market and consistently pays above the EU average. Any reduction in access to, or the value of, the UK market would have a very negative impact on the Irish beef sector, and potentially the overall European beef market.”
Leaders of the European Parliament political groups set out their priorities in the negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Any agreement on the withdrawal will need to win the approval of the House and the crucial role of MEPs during the negotiations was underlined by EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who also took part in the debate.
Opening the debate, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said that “Parliament’s vote will be decisive for the final outcome of the conditions for the UK’s withdrawal and for future EU-UK relations. The recent terrorist attacks make it clear that all European countries will need to continue working closely with each other.”
Mister President, Buongiorno, Honourable Members, Mister President of the Council, Ladies and Gentlemen,
There is no better place to start the debate on our negotiations with the United Kingdom, than in the place where they are supposed to end in less than two years’ time.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Presidents, thank you for allowing me to speak before the European Parliament today.
Complementing President Juncker’s speech, and thanking him for his confidence, let me start by congratulating the excellent work done – under the auspices of President Tajani and all the political groups – by Guy Verhofstadt and his team, with whom I have cooperated closely since I started in this role.
Your Resolution will be the first political stand taken by a European Institution following the notification letter sent last week by the government of the United Kingdom to the President of the European Council.
With this Resolution you will set the tone by speaking to the British government, the governments of the 27 but also – and especially – to European citizens.
And it goes without saying that I also understand the message you wish to pass to me, as negotiator.
Our common objective is to succeed in this negotiation – that means reaching an agreement.
There are three pre-conditions for that to happen:
The UK and the EU will soon start talks to determine the terms of their new relationship and any resulting agreement would have to be approved by the European Parliament. Tomorrow MEPs debate Parliament’s priorities and vote on them afterwards. A key principle will be to ensure that the interests of people are safeguarded . Watch our video for a reminder of the benefits of being an EU citizen.
On 29 March the UK triggered article 50, signalling the start of lengthy negotiations between the UK and the EU. One of the key issues is what will happen to the Brits living in the EU and the EU citizens living in the UK. The draft resolution to be voted on tomorrow calls for their fair treatment and says that their interests should be given full priority in the negotiations. It also adds that that their status and rights should be subject to the principles of “reciprocity, equity” and “non-discrimination”. Read Statement in full here
Remarks by President Donald Tusk on the next steps following the UK notification
Good morning. First of all I would like to thank Prime Minister Muscat for his hospitality and the extraordinary job already done by the Maltese presidency. A steady, solid and superb rotating Presidency of the Council is even more important in times like these. So thank you again for your work, Joseph.
The main point on our agenda was obviously Brexit.
Today my task is to propose the draft negotiating guidelines on Brexit to the 27 EU leaders. To the 27, because from Wednesday, after triggering Article 50, the United Kingdom is now on the other side of the negotiating table. We have worked very fast, because, as you know, the Treaty gives us only two years to reach an agreement.
Remarks in full by President Donald Tusk on the next steps following the UK notification
Commenting on the draft guidelines on Brexit negotiations, issued today by the European Council, IFA President Joe Healy said EU recognition of the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland, and the stated aim of avoiding a hard border, are very welcome, and a resolution to trade issues must be central in this.
He said it is critical to avoid disruption to trade in the farming and food sector, which would seriously damage farmers’ livelihoods and agri-food businesses, not only in border counties, but across the island of Ireland.
“The best way to avoid disruption to trade is for the UK to remain in the Customs Union. If this is not possible, the EU and UK must negotiate a comprehensive free-trade agreement, which would maintain tariff-free trade for agricultural products and food and ensure equivalent standards in the areas of food safety, animal health and welfare. These must be priority issues in the discussions on the border.”
Joe Healy was speaking from Newcastle, Co. Down where he is attending a meeting of UK farm leaders hosted by the Ulster Farmers’ Union to discuss the implications of Brexit and to co-ordinate the approach of farm leaders to the negotiations. At the meeting, Joe Healy set out to the UK farm leaders the key priorities for farming and food in the IFA policy paper Brexit: The Imperatives for Irish Farmers & the Agri-Food Sector. Read Statement in full
IFA President Joe Healy is attending a meeting of UK farm leaders hosted by the Ulster Farmers’ Union in Co Down this afternoon to discuss the implications of Brexit and to co-ordinate the approach of farm leaders to the negotiations.
The meeting will be attended by the President of the UFU Barclay Bell, the NFU President Meurig Raymond, the NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick and the NFU Wales President Stephen James.
The IFA President will set out the key priorities for farming and food in the IFA policy paper Brexit: The Imperatives for Irish Farmers & the Agri-Food Sector. Joe Healy said, “There is a strong awareness of the importance of the British market for our food exports, but the level of trade and co-operation between North and South is also significant. The shared land border and geographical closeness has led to the development of a highly-integrated agri-food sector, with large volumes in both finished products and products requiring further processing”.
There is a strong view among all farm leaders of the importance of placing our issues at the top of the agenda. We will be working closely as the Brexit negotiations evolve to insist that our political leaders have farming and food at the heart of the discussions.
Read Statement in full
Statement by the European Council 1
Today, the European Council received a letter from the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, notifying the United Kingdom’s intention to leave the European Union. This notification follows the referendum of 23 June 2016 and starts the withdrawal process under Article 50 of the Treaty. We regret that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union, but we are ready for the process that we now will have to follow.
For the European Union, the first step will now be the adoption of guidelines for the negotiations by the European Council. These guidelines will set out the overall positions and principles in light of which the Union, represented by the European Commission, will negotiate with the United Kingdom. More information here
What is Article 50?
Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union sets out the procedure for a Member State to withdraw from the European Union, if it should wish to do so. It was first introduced by the Lisbon Treaty in 2007.
How does a Member State trigger Article 50?
A Member State must notify the European Council of its intention to leave. There are no particular requirements regarding the form.
What happens once Article 50 has been triggered?
The withdrawal agreement must be negotiated in accordance with Article 218 (3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
IFA President Joe Healy has said farming and food will have to be centre stage in the Irish Government’s position as the formal negotiations on Brexit begin.
“The implications are very serious for our largest indigenous industry given the significance of the UK market for our food exports. No sector faces a greater threat from Brexit and we expect a strong negotiating stance by our political leaders to achieve the best outcome for Irish farming.”
Joe Healy said the triggering of Article 50 today must concentrate the minds of everybody to deliver a deal that prioritises the core economic issues.
It must clearly set out a framework for the future relationship between the EU and the UK. The IFA President has met the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to set out the key priorities for farming and food in the IFA policy paper Brexit: The Imperatives for Irish Farmers & the Agri-Food Sector.
“The Minister understands our position in and is acutely aware of the importance of placing our issues at the top of the agenda. IFA wants to maintain the closest possible trading relationship between the UK and EU, while preserving the value of the UK market; and a strong CAP budget following the UK’s departure, which is critical for farm incomes, farm output and economic activity in rural Ireland.” Statement in full here
EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan, the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, IFA representatives and industry leaders will speak at the event.
Read what IFA has to say on Brexit: The Imperatives for Irish Farmers & the Agri-Food Sector
Theresa May’s government will on March 29 inform the EU of its intention to leave the Union.
A meeting of EU Ambassadors will follow on March 31, with the EU’s draft negotiating guidelines to be ready for final consultation on April 19.
Ministers will meet for the first time on April 27 in Luxembourg, and national leaders at a scheduled EU27 Summit in Brussels on April 29.
Speaking at the ASA debate on Brexit in Kilkenny this afternoon, IFA President Joe Healy dismissed any suggestion of diluting growth targets for the farming and food industry because of Brexit. He said, “Food Wise 2025 sets out ambitious targets based on our capacity to expand production. It would be extremely shortsighted to jettison clear objectives at this point”. Read statement in full here
Speech by Michel Barnier, Chief Negotiator for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom, at the plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions
The first condition is the unity of the 27, which goes hand in hand with transparency and public debate. Since I took up office on 1 October, I have met the governments of all 27 Member States. Over the past few weeks, I have started a second tour of the capitals to meet the governments again, as well as the national parliaments, trade unions and professional organisations. Read Speech by Michel Barnier
In view of what was announced in London yesterday, I would like to inform you that I will call a European Council, in an EU27 format (without the UK), on Saturday 29th April 2017 to adopt the guidelines for the Brexit talks,” said President Tusk at the press briefing with Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe on 21 March 2017.
“As you all know, I personally wish the UK hadn’t chosen to leave the EU, but the majority of British voters decided otherwise. Therefore, we must do everything we can to make the process of divorce the least painful for the EU, ” said Tusk.
He highlighted that the main priority for the negotiations must be to create as much certainty and clarity as possible for all citizens, companies and member states that will be negatively affected by Brexit as well as for the Eu’s important partners and friends around the world.
It has been announced today that Article 50 will be triggered by the UK on Wednesday 29 March.
To help understand the next steps in this process, here is a short information note to Article 50 – what is it, what happens next, and who is involved.
Britain is exiting the 28-country EU bloc, which it joined in 1973. Initially envisaged as a free-trade zone that now includes 500 million consumers, the EU is, in the eyes of many Britons, too bureaucratic, too expensive and an obstacle to stopping mass immigration.
At their informal meeting of December 2016, the 27 leaders agreed on the following procedure for upcoming Brexit talks:
Upon request by the AFCO Committee, the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs commissioned a briefing on the impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on Northern Ireland, the part of the UK most distinctly affected by Brexit. The briefing analyses the implications of Brexit on the Northern Irish economy and on the freedom of movement from the establishment of a “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic. It examines the possible consequences of Brexit on the relations between communities in Northern Ireland and well as between the UK and the Republic. It looks into the implications of Brexit on the Good Friday Agreement and examines possible bespoke deals between the UK and Irish governments on Northern Ireland following Brexit. Read Report here
Upon request by the AFCO Committee, the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs commissioned an in-depth analysis on the political and institutional situation in the United Kingdom following the referendum on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The research analyses the post-Brexit political developments in the UK, the various parameters that should be taken into account, by both the UK government and the 27, in view of the Article 50 negotiations and the possible shape of …
Upon request by the AFCO Committee, the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs commissioned an in-depth analysis on the political and institutional situation in the United Kingdom following the referendum on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The research analyses the post-Brexit political developments in the UK, the various parameters that should be taken into account, by both the UK government and the 27, in view of the Article 50 negotiations and the possible shape of the final deal and the future economic relationship, taking into account the EU obligations and the constraints of Theresa May’s government. Read the In-Depth Analysis here
The decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union presents unprecedented political, economic and diplomatic challenges for Ireland. Challenges that extend right across the policy spectrum.
This information booklet, Brexit: Ireland’s Priorities, outlines the Irish Government’s main priorities and concerns ahead of the Brexit negotiations.
This booklet has been produced in advance of the triggering of Article 50 and to coincide with the ministerial travel programme for St Patrick’s Day. More detailed negotiation priorities will follow after the triggering of Article 50 by the UK.
Launching IFA’s policy Brexit: The Imperatives for Irish Farmers & the Agri-Food Sector in Dublin today, IFA President Joe Healy said the implications for Irish agriculture are so serious that farming has to be first in the Government’s negotiating position.
Joe Healy said the threat of Brexit is the most significant challenge facing our farming and food sector in the history of the State, with 40% of our food exports going to the UK. He said farmers expect our Government to launch a major diplomatic offensive at EU level that places our issues at the heart of the negotiations.
Simply put, no other Member State and no other sector is as exposed in these negotiations.
“UK is our closet market, of high value with similar preferences. The implications of a hard Brexit are stark: the ESRI estimates a potential reduction of EU trade to the UK of over 60% for dairy and 85% for meat. Translating this to an Irish context would mean a fall of €1.5bn in meat exports, with dairy exports falling by over €600m.”
Irish farming and the agri-food sector is particularly vulnerable to Brexit due to:
Joe Healy said IFA is clear that farming and food must be top of the Brexit agenda, not only in Ireland, but at EU level. “With 22 million farmers and 40 million related jobs, there is a wider strategic objective here to maximise the future value of the EU farming and food sector.”
The key priorities for the farming and the food sector are the maintenance of the closest possible trading relationship between the UK and EU, while preserving the value of the UK market; and a strong CAP budget following the UK’s departure, which is critical for farm incomes, farm output and economic activity in rural Ireland.
Specifically, IFA has identified that, if the UK exits the Single Market and Customs Union, there must be a Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the EU and UK, which would include the following specific elements for agriculture and food:
IFA Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said the UK is the market for 50% of Irish beef exports. “It’s a high-value market and consistently pays above the EU average. Any reduction in access to, or the value of the UK market, would have a very negative impact on the Irish beef sector, and potentially the overall European beef market.”
IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy said one-third of dairy exports went to the UK in 2016. Our cheddar cheese volumes of 78,000 tonnes represented 82% of all cheddar imported by the UK last year. “Retention of tariff-free access is critically important, particularly for cheddar exports. The loss of this, or indeed any negative impact on access, could have a destabilising impact on the overall value of the Irish dairy sector.”
IFA’s Project Team led by the President Joe Healy will be undertaking high level contacts with the Oireachtas, Government Departments, the EU Commission and the EU Parliament in the coming months. IFA will also be engaging with the wider agri-food sector and with farming organisations across Europe.
IFA Director General Damian McDonald announced that Elaine Farrell has been appointed IFA’s Brexit co-ordinator for the campaign.
IFA will hold a major Brexit event on Mon, 24th April next. EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan, the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, IFA representatives and industry leaders will speak at the event in Goffs, Co Kildare. Find out more or book your place here!
This study, requested by the Committee on Consitutional Affairs, examines the Political and Instiutional steps taken, or to be taken, both by the UK and the EU in the context of the the Brexit Referendum vote.
This briefing describes the prominent role of the UK in the single market for financial services, and highlights which activities rely today on passporting for their daily business with the other 27 Member States. The briefing relies on publicly available information, including secondary sources, such as analytical papers done by research institutes and private sector companies. The briefing may be regularly updated pending new information.
The right of a Member State to withdraw from the European Union was introduced for the first time with the Lisbon Treaty; the possibility of withdrawal was highly controversial before that. Article 50 TEU does not set down any sustantive conditions for a Member State to be able to exercise its right to withdraw, rather it includes only procedural requirements. It provides for the negotiation of a withdrawal agreement between the EU and the withdrawing state, defining in particular the latter’s future relationship with the Union. If no agreement is concluded within two year, that stat’es membership ends automatically, unless the European Council and the Member State concerned decide jointly to extend this period.
Full Briefing here