BREXIT LATEST NEWS – 13 FEBRUARY

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BREXIT LATEST NEWS - 13 FEBRUARY
21 Feb 2018

BREXIT LATEST NEWS – 13 FEBRUARY

Brexit, Brussels, Brussels Daily

21/02/2018

BREXIT:  General Affairs Council (Article 50) – 27 February

Preparatory documents

Agenda highlights

The Commission’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier will inform the Council about the state of play in the Brexit negotiations with the UK.

He is expected to focus in particular on the following issues:

  • translation into legal text of the commitments in the December joint report
  • completion of the work on other withdrawal issues
  • discussions on the transition period

Ministers will also begin preparations for the March European Council (Article 50) by looking at the annotated draft agenda. At that summit the 27 EU heads of state or government are expected to adopt additional guidelines on the framework for the future relationship with the UK.

13/02/2018

BREXIT: IRELAND AND THE IMPACT OF BREXIT

Heather Humphreys, T.D., Minister for Business Enterprise and Innovation, has today (13th February 2018) published an independent study which Copenhagen Economics were commissioned to undertake on behalf of her Department and the Government examining the impact of Brexit on Ireland’s trade and economy. She also announced that she will be holding a major conference in Croke Park on 21st February, at which Copenhagen Economics will present its findings. The study was considered by Cabinet earlier in the day.

This report examines the implications and quantifies the impact of possible new barriers to trade which might emerge as a result of Brexit.

IFA SAY BREXIT REPORT FINDINGS ARE STARK BUT NOT SURPRISING

IFA President Joe Healy has said the findings of a report published today by Minister Heather Humphreys, examining the impact of Brexit on Ireland’s trade and economy, are very stark for farming and food in Ireland.

The IFA President said, “We are not surprised to see that our sector faces such a catastrophic outcome in the event of a hard Brexit. The severe impact across the board is something IFA has raised at all political levels since before the referendum.”

Joe Healy said this warning should serve to refocus Government efforts towards securing an outcome that avoids this bleak scenario for our largest indigenous sector.

He said the retention of free trade in agriculture and food products between the EU and UK must be a priority.

“Understandably, there has been much focus on ensuring there is no hard border in Ireland. The December 2017 commitment in relation to Regulatory Alignment with the Single Market and Customs Union is significant in avoiding such a scenario. However for the Irish agri food sector, the focus needs to be on the relationship between the EU and the entirety of the UK.

“North-South Regulatory alignment will help to solve one problem – no hard border in Ireland. East-West Regulatory Alignment has the potential to deliver a lot more – to avoid major disruption for Irish food exporters to our largest market, Britain.

Joe Healy warned that post Brexit, we cannot have a scenario where the UK Government can do as they please as regards agricultural trade with third countries. He said, “If the UK wants continued access to the EU market, the EU must insist that the UK will not be free to open their markets to low standard or low value products from outside the EU.”

Concluding, the IFA President said as the discussions intensify, we hope and expect to see an early agreement on the transition phase which will give some certainty post March 2019.

09/02/2018

BREXIT: Speech by Michel Barnier following this week’s round of Article 50 negotiations (6th-9th February)

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am happy to be here. I would like to thank you for being here rather than in front of your television watching the opening ceremony of the 23rd Winter Olympic Games, which has just started in Pyeongchang.

Allow me to extend my personal best wishes to both the Korean hosts and the athletes.

To come back to Brexit, we agreed with the UK side this week that the agenda would cover Ireland, the governance of the withdrawal agreement, and the transition.

We also foresaw an “update” by the UK on the future relationship. This update did not take place this morning because of agenda constraints on the UK side. That was the only meeting to have been cancelled.

Before the beginning of this round, I was very happy to meet David Davis on Monday in London, on his invitation, for a political discussion and also to meet Prime Minister Theresa May.

On the points I will now mention, this round was, for us, a “relaunch” round – the first since the Joint Report in December.

I think it is useful, however – for your work and your information – to give you an update today on the negotiations.

These meetings between us, and with David Davis whenever he wishes, will continue to take place regularly.

This negotiation is organised in rounds. This organisation is important to us – the EU side – because it gives us the time, before and after every round, to consult the 27 Member States and the European Parliament.

This is also how we ensure transparency – to which we have committed since the beginning, particularly when it comes to you.

And this method is also how we managed to reach an agreement with the British in December on the first important step of this negotiation.

I – On Ireland, we focused on solutions to avoid a hard border. Any solution must be precise, clear and unambiguous.

As you know, our Joint Report provides for three options:

  1. First, solving the issues on the island of Ireland through the future relationship. This future relationship would need to avoid a hard border, and protect North-South cooperation and the Good Friday Agreement. Once again, ladies and gentlemen, it is important to tell the truth. A UK decision to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union would make border checks unavoidable.
  1. Second, the UK has committed to proposing specific solutions to the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland. We are waiting for such solutions.
  1. The third option is to maintain full regulatory alignment with those rules of the Single Market and the Customs Union – current or future – which support North-South cooperation, the all-island economy and the Good Friday Agreement.
  • Options 1 and 2 can only be made operational in the context of the future relationship.
  • In the meantime, it is our responsibility to include the third option in the text of the Withdrawal Agreement to guarantee that there will be no hard border whatever the circumstances.
  • This means that we must now start legally defining how this scenario would work in operational terms. There must be no ambiguity here.
  • Based on the discussions this week, the UK has accepted the necessity of discussing how to make this full alignment scenario operational, provided we discuss the other two options in parallel. This is what we will work on in the coming rounds.

II – Second point: the governance of the withdrawal agreement

  • This is one of the keys of our agreement: in order to be credible and durable, this withdrawal agreement should have effective implementation mechanisms.
  • As far as we see it, these mechanisms should provide for a role for the European Court of Justice every time the agreement refers to European law.
  • This remains a point of disagreement with the UK.

III – The transition period

  • This period consists of extending the acquis for a time-limited period, as was requested by the UK itself.
  • The Heads of State or Government of the 27 replied positively to this request at the European Council of 15 December. We have a Council mandate since 29 January and we presented this to the UK this week.
  • In my meeting in London with David Davis on Monday – and in the negotiations in Brussels this week – the UK insisted on reaching a deal on the transition in March.
  • But, at the same time, our interlocutors disagree with us in a number of areas, which –objectively – I consider as substantial. In particular:

On citizens’ rights: while the UK recognises that the free movement of people applies fully during the transition period, it does not want – at the end of this transition – to extend the rights, as agreed in the Joint Report, of those citizens who arrived before the withdrawal, to those citizens to arrive during the transition. This is a major point for us, and also for the European Parliament.

On the application of EU rules during the transition: the UK has requested a right of opposition in the case where it disagrees with a new rule or law which could enter into force during this transition period.

On Justice and Home Affairs questions: the UK wants to continue benefitting from new EU policies, the famous opt-ins, while at the same time it has decided to leave these policies at the end of the transition.

Frankly, I am surprised by these disagreements.

 

READ MORE

The EU’s positions are, from my point of view, logical:

By asking to benefit from the advantages of the Single Market, the Customs Union and common policies, the UK must accept all the rules and obligations until the end of the transition.

It must also assume the inevitable consequences of its decision to leave the European Union, its institutions and its policies.

  • Taking into account these disagreements, and to be frank, the transition period today is not a given.
  • As I said, time is short, very short, and we do not have a minute to lose if we want to succeed. We want to succeed in this orderly withdrawal and also begin possible discussions on the future relationship as soon as possible.
  • This is precisely why the Commission proposed a legal text on the transition to the Member States this week.
  • Once agreed by the 27, this text will form part of our overall draft withdrawal agreement text, which we will then send to the UK. The European Parliament, I repeat, must also give its consent to this draft.
  • In this draft legal text, published this week by the European Commission – in full transparency – we set out a provision which will allow existing EU implementation mechanisms to be reinforced during the transition period.
  • Why is this provision – which was commented on a lot – necessary for us? This is simply because in the case of a violation of European rules during the transition, our usual infringement procedures, which are applicable to all Member States today, risk taking too much time and will therefore not be operational to resolve any possible dispute between the UK and the EU during this very short period. That is the only reason.
  • It is absolutely normal that, in an international agreement, effective implementation and conflict resolution mechanisms are foreseen. This is the case, for example, with our agreements with Switzerland.
  • To be entirely objective, I want to also recall that the UK has traditionally been among those countries with relatively few infringement procedures.
  • Throughout this negotiation, you will not find in our attitude or in my attitude – on this subject, or on others – the least trace of discourtesy or willingness to punish. My mind set has been completely the opposite since the beginning of this negotiation and it will continue being so until the last day of the negotiation.
  • We need to simply build a legally solid withdrawal agreement, which leaves no uncertainty for anybody.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Once again, we need to advance in this negotiation methodically and in a structured way, through consultation and transparency, which allows us to organise the rounds. This consultation and transparency is first for the 27 Member States, in whose name I negotiate, for the European Parliament, with which we work closely, the national parliaments, which I regularly meet, for citizens, for economic and social actors, and for you.

My deputy, Sabine Weyand, will discuss this afternoon with the UK negotiators the dates and the precise agenda of the coming negotiations.

SPEECH/18/725

07/02/2018

Brexit: Internal EU27 preparatory discussions on the framework for the future relationship: “Transitional Arrangement in the Withdrawal Agreement”

“Transitional Arrangements in the Withdrawal Agreement”

European Commission, Task Force for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 TEU
Remarks: This position paper on “Transitional Arrangements in the Withdrawal Agreement” translates into legal terms the principles laid down in the European Council Guidelines of 29 April and 15 December 2017 and in the supplementary negotiating directives annexed the Council Decision of 29 January 2018
Published on Wednesday 7 February 2018

06/02/2018

Brexit: Internal EU27 preparatory discussions on the framework for the future relationship: “International Agreements” and Services

Slides on International agreements and trade policy

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

Remarks: These slides are for presentational and information purposes only and were presented to the Council Working Party (Article 50) on 31 January 2018.

The contents are without prejudice to discussions on the framework of the future relationship. In December 2017, the European Council invited the Council (Art. 50) together with the Union negotiator to continue internal preparatory discussions on the scope of the future EU-UK relationship. The slides support those discussions. They are based on the April European Council guidelines which continue to apply in their entirety.

Published on the TF50 website on 6 February 2018

05/02/2018

Brexit: Statement by Michel Barnier following his working lunch in London with David Davis

First of all, I want to thank you, David, for your hospitality. I was very pleased to also meet today the Prime Minister, Theresa May.

In a very short time, from now until October, we must advance on three fronts.

First, translating our Joint Report into legal text.

Second, the transition period, which you just mentioned, David. Let me recall that the UK government has decided the date of the UK withdrawal: the 29th March 2019. This was the UK’s sovereign decision. Mrs May has asked to benefit from the Single Market and the Customs Union for a short period after this. The European Council has indicated its readiness to consider this request. The conditions are clear: everyone has to play by the same rules during this transition. Let me add one point about this transition: the certainty about the transition will only come with the ratification of the withdrawal agreement.

Number three: our future partnership between the UK and the EU. On that point we need also clarity about the UK’s proposals for the future partnership. The only thing I can say now is that without a customs union- and being outside the Single Market – barriers to trade and goods and services are unavoidable. The time has come to make a choice. Thank you.

STATEMENT/18/642

02/02/2018

Brexit:  Programme: EU-UK Article 50 negotiations Brussels, 6-9 February 2018

Tuesday, 6 February – Thursday, 8 February

Technical sessions

o Withdrawal issues (Governance)

o Ireland/Northern Ireland

o Transition

Friday, 9 February

Meeting at Coordinators’ level

o Wrap-up

o UK update on the future relationship

 

31/01/2018

Brexit:  Negotiating documents on Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom

 

Slides on Level Playing Field

Internal EU27 preparatory discussions on the framework for the future relationship

31/01/2018

Brexit:  House of Commons Library documents

 

Brexit: UK agriculture policy
Gives an overview of the key issues facing agricultural policy-making post-Brexit

The policy framework for agriculture after the UK leaves the EU
Briefing prepared for a debate on this subject on 01/02/18

Current European Union Trade Agreements
House of Lords briefing summarising the EU’s trading relationships with OECD and BRICS countries, excluding EFTA states

Foreign Affairs Committee says Government must decide plans for post-Brexit relationships

Committee concludes that the Government must clarify what level of access to EU foreign, security and defence policy decision-making it aims to secure, and it must increase its diplomatic presence in the 27 EU capitals

European defence: where is it heading?
Examines possible developments related to the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy post-Brexit

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill: briefing for Lords stages
House of Lords Library briefing prepared for Second Reading of the Bill in the Lords

 

29/01/2018

Brexit: Council (Article 50) adopts negotiating directives on the transition periodThe Council, meeting in EU27 format, adopted supplementing negotiating directives for the Brexit negotiations, which detail the EU27 position regarding a transition period. These negotiating directives provide the Commission, as the EU negotiator, with a mandate to start discussions with the United Kingdom on this matter.

EU ministers have given a clear mandate to the Commission on what is the type of transition period that we envisage: full EU acquis to be applied in the UK and no participation in the EU institutions and decision-making. The 27 adopted the text speedily today and we hope an agreement on this with the UK can also be closed swiftly.

Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva

Duration of the transition period

The guidelines of the European Council (Article 50) of 15 December 2017 stated that transitional arrangements must be clearly defined and precisely limited in time. The proposed end date for the transition period in the negotiating directives is 31 December 2020.

Application of EU acquis

According to the EU position, during the transition period the whole of the EU acquis will continue to apply to the UK as if it were a member state. Changes to the acquis adopted by EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies during that period would also apply in the UK.

All existing EU regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures will also apply, including the competence of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Concerning the area of freedom, security and justice, where the UK has a right to opt in and opt out of individual pieces of legislation, the current rules will apply for acts adopted during the transition by which the UK is bound before its withdrawal. However the UK will no longer be allowed to opt into new measures in this area other than those amending, replacing or building upon the ones he is bound before its withdrawal.

Trade policy and international deals

During the transition period, the UK will remain bound by the obligations stemming from the agreements concluded by the EU, while it will no longer participate in any bodies set up by those agreements.

As the UK will continue to participate in the customs union and the single market (with all four freedoms) during the transition, it will have to continue to comply with EU trade policy, to apply EU customs tariff and collect EU customs duties and to ensure all EU checks are being performed on the border. This also implies that during that period the UK will not become bound by international agreements in its own capacity in fields of competence of EU law, unless authorised to do so by the EU.

EU institutions and bodies

The UK, as already a third country, will no longer participate in the institutions and the decision-making of the EU.

The UK will no longer attend meetings of Commission experts groups, committees or other similar entities where member states are represented. Exceptionally on a case-by-case basis, the UK could however be invited to attend one of these meetings without voting rights.

Specific consultations will be foreseen with regard to the fixing of fishing opportunities (total allowable catches) during the transition period, in full respect of the EU acquis.

 

19/01/2018

BREXIT: Agenda Highlights General Affairs Council (Art. 50) 29 January

EU27 ministers are expected to adopt a new set of negotiating directives for the Brexit negotiations, which will in particular give details on the EU27 position on the transition period.

Transition period

Some basic principles are:

  • the transition period will cover the whole of the EU acquis 
  • the UK will no longer participate in the institutions and the decision-making of the EU
  • the transitional arrangements must be clearly defined and precisely limited in time
  • all existing EU regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures will also apply, including the competence of the Court of Justice of the European Union

Negotiating directives

These negotiation directives will be based on and further develop the principles and conditions laid down in the European Council guidelines of 29 April 2017 and of 15 December 2017. The text will build on the Commission recommendations of 20 December 2017.

The General Affairs Council (Article 50) adoption of the negotiation directives will give a mandate to the Commission, as the EU negotiator, to discuss with the UK the transitional arrangements to be included in the withdrawal agreement.

  • December 2017: the EU27 leaders decided that sufficient progress had been achieved in the Brexit negotiations to move to the second phase – transition and framework for the future relationship will be discussed
  • January 2018: the Council (Article 50) will adopt additional negotiating directives on transitional arrangements 
  • March 2018: the European Council (Article 50) will adopt additional guidelines on the framework for the future relationship

17/01/2018

BREXIT:  Internal EU27 preparatory discussions on the framework for the future relationship: “Fisheries”

Origin: European Commission, Task Force for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under
Article 50 TEU
Remarks: These slides are for presentational and information purposes only and were presented to the Council Working Party (Article
50) on 16 January 2018. The contents are without prejudice to discussions on the framework of the future relationship.
In December 2017, the European Council invited the Council (Art. 50) together with the Union negotiator to continue internal
preparatory discussions on the scope of the future EU-UK relationship. The slides support those discussions. They are based
on the April European Council guidelines which continue to apply in their entirety. View slides here

16/01/2018

BREXIT: Technical meetings Brussels, EU-UK Article 50 negotiations, 16-17 January 2018

 

EU and UK negotiators will convene this week at technical level to work on the issues below.

 

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

14:00-17:30 TECHNICAL MEETING ON GOVERNANCE

 

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

10:00-13:30 TECHNICAL MEETING ON OTHER SEPARATION ISSUES

12:00-14:00 TECHNICAL MEETING ON IRELAND/NORTHERN IRELAND

14:30-17:00 TECHNICAL MEETING ON OTHER SEPARATION ISSUES

15/01/2018

Brexit: Internal EU27 preparatory discussions on the framework for the future relationship: “Governance”

European Commission, Task Force for the Preparation and ,Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under  Article 50TEU

These slides are for presentational and information purposes only and were presented to the Council Working Party (Article

50) on 11 January 2018. The contents are without prejudice to discussions on the framework of the future relationship.

View slides here

15/01/2018

Brexit Literature Update 01/2018

Following a relevant request by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs has been compiling, on a regular basis, academic and scholarly material related to the process of, and the negotiations on, the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. Since the June 2016 referendum in the UK, Brexit-related literature has grown significantly and it is probably going to expand further in the future.

Thus, this compilation is far from exhaustive; rather, it identifies some of the more useful articles, taking into account, in particular, the following elements: • Scholarly rather than a journalistic character of the publication • Originality and interest • Recent publication • Be of interest for the EU • Constitutional or institutional relevance. Read it here

12/01/2018

The Brexit process [What Think Tanks are thinking]

The EU’s Heads of State or Government gave the green light in December 2017 to the second phase of negotiations on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU. They agreed that ‘sufficient progress’ had been made in talks on issues in the first phase. Those include the UK’s financial obligations on leaving the EU, the rights of EU citizens within the UK and of UK citizens within the EU, and how to deal with the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. The next phase of talks will focus on transitional arrangements and the future EU-UK relationship, including in the field of trade. This note offers links to recent commentaries and reports published by major international think tanks and other organisations on EU-UK negotiations and on the implications of Brexit more widely. More studies on these issues can be found in a previous edition of ‘What Think Tanks are thinking’ from October 2017.

Read Briefing here

10/01/2018

BREXIT: EU FUNDING RECEIVED BY THE UK

House of Commons Library briefing looks at the funding received by the UK from EU institutions and considers the implications of Brexit on the EU as a source of funding for regional development, agriculture support, research and innovation and other areas. Read briefing here

09/01/2018

BREXIT: Excerpts from Speech by Michel Barnier at the Trends Manager of the Year 2017 event

Today the UK is still an important partner for your country, representing 7 % of Belgian trade in goods.

But, at the same time, 68 % of your trade is with the other Member States of the European Union. Almost 10 times more!

What makes our European economies strong is the Single Market. The British know this well, since it was the main reason why they joined the EEC in 1972.

Our Single Market will still have 440 million consumers and 22 million businesses after the UK’s departure.

Beyond facilitating trade between us, it helps our businesses succeed in international competition, thanks to our collective negotiating power and our rules and standards, which are often adopted worldwide.

This is why, in these negotiations, one of my main concerns is to maintain the integrity of the Single Market, which is our common good – and is not, and will not be negotiable.

But naturally, alongside this home market, the UK will remain an important market for many of you, and I understand the concern which is expressed here and throughout Europe about the consequences of Brexit, which we did not want.

Since day one, I have asked – and I have asked myself – three questions. And it is in the answer to these three questions that we will see the form of our future relationship.

I – Does the UK want an orderly withdrawal or a disorderly withdrawal and is it ready to assume the immediate consequences of its decision to leave the European Union?

We have obtained a positive answer to this first question. On 8 December we reached an agreement with the UK that represents a significant step towards an orderly withdrawal.

In other words, the risk of a disorderly withdrawal has receded, even though we must remain prepared for all options.

This agreement addresses the three most urgent subjects of these negotiations:

1) Citizens’ rights, which is our priority and that of the European Parliament. There are 30 000 Belgians in the UK and 27 000 British citizens in Belgium. In all, 4.5 million people are involved. Our agreement guarantees their rights for their lifetime.

2) Ireland, whose unique situation calls for specific solutions to prevent the return of a hard border.

3) Finally, with regard to the financial settlement, all the commitments undertaken by the 28 will be honoured by the 28.

On the basis of our Joint Report, the European Council agreed that ‘sufficient progress’ had been made to begin discussions on a possible transition period and on the framework for our future relationship.

This is the subject of my second question.

II – What kind of future relationship does the UK want with the European Union?

We don’t yet have the answer to this question. However, we can proceed by deduction, based on the Union’s legal system and the UK’s red lines. By officially drawing these red lines, the UK is itself closing the doors, one by one.

The British government wants to end the free movement of persons, which is indivisible from the other three freedoms. It has therefore indicated its intention of leaving the Single Market.

The British government wants to recover its independence to negotiate international agreements. It has therefore confirmed its intention of leaving the Customs Union.

The UK no longer wishes to recognise the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which guarantees the application of our common rules.

It follows that the only model possible is a free trade agreement, which could obviate the need for trade barriers, such as customs duties, and could facilitate customs procedures and product certification.

This will of course be adapted to the specificities of the relationship between the EU and the UK, in the same way that our agreement with Canada is not identical to our agreements with Korea or Japan.

But one thing is clear: a free trade agreement, however ambitious, cannot include all the benefits of the Customs Union and the Single Market.

For example, with regard to financial services, a free trade agreement may include provisions on regulatory cooperation – as is the case with Japan. This regulatory cooperation may also take the form of a regular dialogue like the one we have with the United States.

But we have never given up our regulatory autonomy.

The regulatory framework we have constructed as a Union of 28, including the United Kingdom, learning from the financial crisis, is extremely precise. We have developed a single rulebook and more integrated European supervision, which guarantee financial stability, protection for investors, market integrity and a level playing field.

A country leaving this very precise framework and the accompanying supervision gains the ability to diverge from it but by the same token loses the benefits of the Internal Market. Its financial service providers can no longer enjoy the benefits of a passport to the Single Market nor those of a system of generalised equivalence of standards.

This is not a question of punishment or revenge; we simply want to remain in charge of our own rules and the way in which they are applied. As it seeks to regain its decision-making autonomy, the United Kingdom must respect ours.

Where allowed by our legislation, we will be able to consider some of the United Kingdom’s rules as equivalent using a proportionate and risk-based approach, in particular for financial stability, which will remain our main concern.

Let us not have short memories: the financial crisis was not that long ago. It cost us a lot and it destroyed value and millions of jobs, creating an unprecedented social crisis.

 

Full Speech available here

20/12/2017

15/12/2017

13/12/201

08/12/201

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Background

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

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

For More Information

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

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

Joint EU/United Kingdom Technical Table on Citizens’ Rights

European Council Guidelines, 29 April 2017

Council negotiating directives, 22 May 2017

European Council conclusions, 20 October 2017

22/11/201

BREXIT: Excerpt from Speech by Michel Barnier at the Berlin Security Conference

Ladies and gentlemen,

The negotiations on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal are a complex task that we carry out with reason and determination, without aggression or naivety: ‘there is no place for Schadenfreude in Brexit’. There is neither revenge nor punishment in our mission.

My mandate comes under a framework laid down by the Heads of State or Government and by the resolutions of the European Parliament, all of whom wish for an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom.

We are awaiting sufficient progress from London on the following three points:

  • the rights of European citizens in the United Kingdom and of British citizens in the EU;
  • issues relating to the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland;
  • fulfilment of the financial obligations entered into during the United Kingdom’s membership of the Union.

We are not there yet. The work on the three main subjects continues this week in a constructive spirit with the UK. The next European Council will take place in 15 days’ time. If real ‘sufficient progress’ is actually made, the European Council will be able to open the discussion a possible transitional period. Then the Member States will define in 2018 the framework of this new partnership with the UK.

We hope that this future relationship will be an ambitious one ! And we want security, defence and foreign policy as key components of it.

In April of this year, the Heads of State or Government stated their desire to establish a security and defence partnership.

After its exit from the Union, the United Kingdom will lose its decision-making powers at the European level and some levers for wielding influence.

It will, however, remain a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a member of NATO. It will remain a diplomatic, nuclear and military power.

We are linked by shared values and a common destiny, and we will remain so for the long term.

In the past, it is true to say that the United Kingdom has not been the spearhead of European defence. This is no secret to anyone.

  • The British contribution to EU–led military operations is limited – barely 5% of the personnel deployed.
  • The British have never wanted to turn the Union into a military power.
  • The British have always resisted setting up a European Headquarters, although such a Headquarters would never compete with NATO.

But our future partnership must be conceived to fit the geopolitical situation of tomorrow, not the policy and differences of the past.

According to studies by the UK Ministry of Defence, by 2045 the major world powers will have doubled their defence budget. Some of them, such as China and India, may even have increased it fivefold.

Let’s consider the title of your conference, ‘Security and defence in unpredictable times’ – who can say for certain that Europe will still be a haven of stability in 10 or 20 years?

It is for us, Europeans, to maintain this stability and to promote our values around the world. Nobody is going to do it for us. And to me it seems obvious that we will be stronger if we cooperate to meet these challenges. Speech in full here

22/11/201

BREXIT AND IRELAND – Legal, Political and Economic Consideration

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament‘s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the AFCO Committee, describes the legal, political and economic relations of the two parts of Ireland and the United Kingdom, and possible arrangements for dealing with “Brexit”. The paper discusses several specific issues, in particular the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the United Kingdom, the consequences of an “invisible” border between the two parts of Ireland, and trade in agricultural products.  Read Study in full

UK Withdrawal (‘Brexit’) and the Good Friday Agreement

Upon request by the AFCO Committee, the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs commissioned this study on UK withdrawal and the Good Friday Agreement (the ‘Agreement’). It provides an overview of the Agreement and an assessment of the potential challenges posed to its implementation by ‘Brexit’. In particular, it examines ways in which – through differentiation and ‘flexible and imaginative solutions’ – the Agreement can be upheld and the context for its effective implementation maintained.   Read the Study in full here

20/11/201

BREXIT: General Affairs Council (Art. 50), 20/11/2017

Main results

Brexit

The Council, in EU27 format, was informed by the EU Brexit Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, of the progress reached so far in the negotiations with the UK after six rounds of talks. Ministers then started the preparations for the European Council (Article 50) in December 2017 by examining the annotated draft agenda.

20/11/201

BREXIT: Excerpt from Speech by Michel Barnier at the Centre for European Reform on ‘The Future of the EU’

Ladies and gentlemen,

There are three keys to building a strong partnership with the UK.

First, we need to agree on the terms for the UK’s orderly withdrawal.

The 27 Member States and the European Parliament have been always very clear on what this means.

And we have been consistent:

  • on citizens’ rights;
  • on settling the accounts accurately; we owe this to taxpayers as well as to all those benefiting from EU-funded projects, in the UK and the EU;
  • on Ireland.

Let me say a few words on Ireland specifically.

We need to preserve stability and dialogue on the island of Ireland.

We need to avoid a hard border.

I know that this point is politically sensitive in the UK.

It is not less sensitive in Ireland.

Some in the UK say that specific rules for Northern Ireland would “endanger the integrity of the UK single market”.

But Northern Ireland already has specific rules in many areas that are different to the rest of the UK.

Think of the “all-Island” electricity market, or of the specific regulations for plant health for the whole island of Ireland.

Think of rules that prevent and handle animal disease, which I know well as a former Minister for Agriculture.

There are over one hundred areas of cross-border cooperation on the island of Ireland.

Such cooperation depends in many cases on the application of common rules and common regulatory space.

We have nearly finished our common reading of the Good Friday Agreement. We have agreed on the principles for the Common Travel Area.

The UK and the EU have recognised that Ireland poses specific challenges. And that the unique circumstances there require a specific solution.

On the EU side, we must preserve the integrity of the Single Market and the Customs Union at 27. The rules for this are clear.

The UK said it would continue to apply some EU rules on its territory. But not all rules.

What is therefore unclear is what rules will apply in Northern Ireland after Brexit. And what the UK is willing to commit to, in order to avoid a hard border.

I expect the UK, as co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, to come forward with proposals.

The island of Ireland is now faced with many challenges.

Those who wanted Brexit must offer solutions.

 

Speech in full here

17/11/201

BREXIT: Information about the Withdrawal Bill

Documents

Bill Overview

PDF, 147KB, 3 pages

 

Converting and preserving law

PDF, 182KB, 3 pages

 

The correcting power

PDF, 139KB, 3 pages

 

Power to implement the withdrawal agreement

PDF, 137KB, 2 pages

 

Devolution

PDF, 224KB, 4 pages

 

Charter of Fundamental Rights

PDF, 171KB, 3 pages

 

Workers’ rights

PDF, 166KB, 4 pages

 

Environmental protections

PDF, 216KB, 3 pages

 

Consumer protections

PDF, 138KB, 3 pages

 

Treaty Rights

PDF, 205KB, 4 pages

 

Glossary

PDF, 172KB, 5 pages

 

Impact Assessment

PDF, 156KB, 10 pages

 

Regulatory Policy Committee opinion

PDF, 256KB, 6 pages

 

Equality Analysis

PDF, 204KB, 14 pages

 

European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) memorandum

PDF, 232KB, 20 pages

If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email stakeholder.engagement@dexeu.gov.uk. Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

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.

Relevant links to the Bill

To view the White Paper click here, whilst the Bill can be found here

The Delegated Powers Memorandum has been prepared for the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee to assist with its scrutiny of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. This memorandum identifies the provisions of the Bill that confer powers to make delegated legislation.

 

15/11/201

BREXIT: General Affairs Council (Art. 50), 20/11/2017

Agenda highlights

Brexit

The Council, in an EU27 format, will discuss the state of play of the Brexit negotiations. The Commission’s Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, is expected to inform ministers on the progress made so far.

European Council

Ministers will also start preparations of the European Council (Article 50) of December, by examining the annotated draft agenda for the summit.

Relocation of the two EU agencies

In the margins of the General Affairs Council (Article 50), EU27 ministers will vote on the relocation of the two EU agencies currently located in the UK: the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority.

The two agencies will need to be relocated in the context of the UK withdrawal from the EU. The future location is to be decided through a specific procedure endorsed by the EU27 leaders on 22 June 2017.

Preparatory documents

10/11/201

BREXIT:

Speeches by Michel Barnier and David Davies following the sixth round of Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom 09-10 November.  Full details here

 

09/11/201

BREXIT: Ad hoc Working Party on Article 50

Dialogue on Ireland/Northern Ireland
• At the last round, agreement was reached in principle on joint principles on the Common Travel Area which aim to recognise an existing bilateral arrangement between the UK and Ireland (currently done in Protocol 20 of the Treaty). These recall the background and context of the Common Travel Area Arrangements and take the new situation after withdrawal into account by stating that

o the United Kingdom and Ireland may continue to make arrangements between themselves relating to the movement of persons between their territories (“the Common Travel Area”), while fully respecting the rights of natural persons conferred by Union law.

o the United Kingdom has provided a clear reassurance that the Common Travel Area and associated rights and privileges can continue to operate without affecting Ireland’s obligations under Union law, in particular with respect to free movement for EU citizens.

• Since the last round, intensive work has been carried out with the objective of mapping the potential impact of UK withdrawal on ongoing North South cooperation on the island of Ireland. North South cooperation is a central part of the Good Friday Agreement. Both sides agree that such cooperation should be protected across all the relevant sectors, and that to arrive at a common understanding of the potential risks resulting from UK withdrawal for this cooperation, this joint exercise has been useful.

• In the context of this mapping exercise, the six North-South Implementation Bodies, the six areas for cooperation and implementation agreed by the North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC) as well as a first set of the seven priority areas agreed by the NSMC at its last meeting in November 2016 are under continuing examination. (These include environment, health, agriculture, transport, education/higher education, tourism, energy, telecommunications/broadcasting, inland fisheries, justice and security, and sport.)

• Conclusions and recommendations from this exercise will be elaborated and shared once we have worked through all policy areas. Already prior to undertaking this exercise, the EU’s guiding principles underlined that an important part of political, economic, security, societal and agricultural activity on the island of Ireland currently operates on a cross-border basis, underpinned by joint EU membership of the UK and Ireland.

• The EU and the UK have committed to protecting and supporting the continuation and development of this cooperation and of the functioning of the institutions established by the Good Friday Agreement in the context of the Withdrawal Agreement. Achieving this must be done in a way that respects the integrity of the internal market and the Customs Union of which Ireland will remain a full member.

• It consequently seems essential for the UK to commit to ensuring that a hard border on the island of Ireland is avoided, including by ensuring no emergence of regulatory divergence from those rules of the internal market and the Customs Union which are (or may be in the future) necessary for meaningful North South cooperation, the all-island economy and the protection of the Good Friday Agreement.

 

09/11/201

BREXIT:  European Parliament Agriculture Committee 09 November

📄Miscellaneous – Study_EU-UK_AgricultureTrade

– BREXIT Workshop: EU – UK agricultural trade: state of play and possible impacts of Brexit

📄Miscellaneous – Study_EU-UK_Institutional Issues

– BREXIT Workshop: Possible transitional arrangements related to agriculture in the light of the future EU – UK relationship: institutional issues

📄Miscellaneous – Study_EU-UK_CAP_ Funding

– BREXIT Workshop: Possible impact of Brexit on the EU budget and, in particular, CAP funding

📄Miscellaneous – PPT_EU-UK Trade

– BREXIT Workshop – PowerPoint Presentation – EU – UK Agricultural Trade

View all documents here

09/11/201

BREXIT:  European Parliament Agriculture Committee 09 November

📄Miscellaneous – Study_EU-UK_AgricultureTrade

– BREXIT Workshop: EU – UK agricultural trade: state of play and possible impacts of Brexit

📄Miscellaneous – Study_EU-UK_Institutional Issues

– BREXIT Workshop: Possible transitional arrangements related to agriculture in the light of the future EU – UK relationship: institutional issues

📄Miscellaneous – Study_EU-UK_CAP_ Funding

– BREXIT Workshop: Possible impact of Brexit on the EU budget and, in particular, CAP funding

📄Miscellaneous – PPT_EU-UK Trade

– BREXIT Workshop – PowerPoint Presentation – EU – UK Agricultural Trade

View all documents here

08/11/201

BREXIT:  EP outlines its red lines on latest UK citizens’ rights proposals

Major issues still need to be addressed to secure equal and fair treatment for EU citizens in the UK after Brexit, stresses EP steering group.

The European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group, chaired by Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, BE), met today and issued the following statement:

 

“We don’t recognise reports suggesting that a deal on citizens’ rights is almost finalised. There are still major issues that have to be resolved.

Our most important concern is the UK proposals for settled status for EU citizens in the UK, including the administrative procedures as set out in a technical note published by the UK Government yesterday. It is our firm view that acquiring settled status:

 

  • must be an automatic process in the form of a simple declaration, not an application which introduces any kind of conditionality (for example a pro-active ‘criminality check’);
  • must enable families to make one joint declaration, not separate declarations for each individual family member;
  • must place the burden of proof on the UK authorities to challenge the declaration and this only on a case-by-case basis and in line with EU law;
  • must be cost-free;
  • is a system that can only enter into force after any transition period, if requested and agreed, has concluded. Before that, the freedom of movement applies.

 

On family reunification, Parliament will not accept any weakening of existing rights that EU citizens currently enjoy with respect to family reunification, including both direct descendants and relatives of direct dependence in ascending line.

On the export of benefits, we insist that this cannot be limited to pensions only, but should include all benefits defined in EU legislation.

We insist that UK citizens currently living in the European Union continue to benefit from the freedom of movement after Brexit.”

 

Background

For the European Parliament to approve the withdrawal agreement, the key principles and conditions in the resolution of 5 April, 2017 must be met. These principles were reiterated in another resolution, on the state of play of negotiations, voted on 3 October 2017. Any withdrawal agreement at the end of the UK-EU negotiations will need to win the approval of the European Parliament.

08/11/201

02/11/2017

BREXIT:  EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT STUDY

    • Possible transitional arrangements related to agriculture in the light of the future EU – UK relationship: institutional issues

30/10/2017

BREXIT:  Study – Research for AGRI Committee – Possible impact of Brexit on the EU budget and, in particular, CAP funding

This European Parliament note assesses possible consequences of Brexit for the EU budget and the Common Agricultural Policy. It discusses the importance of the ‘Brexit bill’ and the loss of the British net contribution. Furthermore, it describes how the EU budget and spending on the Common Agricultural Policy can be adjusted to the new situation and estimates how the different options would affect EU Member States and their net balances.  Read study here

25/10/2017

BREXIT:  NEW REPORT SHOWS WHAT IS AT STAKE FOR AGRI-FOOD IN BREXIT

A new European Parliament report shows clearly what is at stake for Ireland’s agri-food sector in the Brexit negotiations. The report says Ireland is likely to be the most negatively impacted country within the EU and deserves particular attention during the Brexit process.

IFA President Joe Healy said the report demonstrates why our Government’s objective must be the maintenance of the closest possible trading arrangements with the United Kingdom.

“As the EU Parliament report demonstrates, Ireland’s agri-food sector and economy are uniquely exposed if a solution is not found during Brexit negotiations to avoid the introduction of WTO tariffs.

“That is why Ireland must have as its top priority no such disruption to our trade flows with the UK and why we must urge negotiators to pursue the retention of the UK in the Customs Union, or a trading arrangement that would a have similar effect.

“While recognising the sequencing of the discussions, there is a need for progress on discussing the future trading relationship and transitional arrangements.”

In addition, Joe Healy pointed out, Irish and EU agri-food exports cannot be undermined by an increase in low-cost food imports into the UK market, or by imports that do not meet the high food safety, animal welfare, health and environmental standards that are required of EU producers.

23/10/2017

BREXIT:  THERESA MAY presented a statement to the House of Commons on the October meeting of the European Council

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on last week’s European Council.

Long after we have left the European Union, the UK will continue to be a strong and committed partner, standing alongside our neighbours and working together to advance our shared values and interests.

This Council provided a further opportunity to demonstrate that ongoing commitment, through discussions that included migration, the digital single market, North Korea and Iran.

And it made important progress in moving towards the new, deep and special partnership with the European Union that we want to see.

Migration

First on migration, the UK is playing its full part.

The Royal Navy has intercepted 172 smuggling boats and saved over 12,000 lives since Operation Sophia began.

While our National Crime Agency is working with Libyan law enforcement, enhancing their capability to tackle the people smuggling and trafficking networks.

At the Council we welcomed the reduction in migrant crossings and the renewed momentum behind the Libyan political process.

But we must also continue to address the root causes driving people across the Sahara and the Mediterranean.

So the UK is also continuing to invest for the long term in education, jobs and services both in countries of origin and transit.

WHAT THERESA MAY HAD TO SAY ON: EXIT FROM THE EU

Digital single market

On the digital single market, it is right to keep up the pressure on completing its implementation by the end of 2018.

This will bring new opportunities to British businesses and consumers, contributing to growth and jobs.

At this Council, I also argued that the free flow of data is key to unlocking the potential of Europe’s digital trade and we secured conclusions which recognised this.

As the Government set out in a paper over the summer, such arrangements will be an important part of the future relationship between the UK and the EU.

North Korea and Iran

On North Korea, we welcomed the EU sanctions adopted last week and reaffirmed our clear condemnation of North Korea’s aggressive and illegal missile and nuclear tests.

We urged all states, including China, to play their part in changing the course Pyongyang is taking.

And on Iran, the Council built on the joint statement made by Chancellor Merkel, President Macron and myself last week, reiterating its firm commitment to the nuclear deal.

This was the culmination of 13 years of diplomacy and a major step towards ensuring that Iran’s nuclear programme is not diverted for military purposes. That is vitally important for our shared security.

Exit from the EU

Mr Speaker, turning to our negotiations to leave the European Union, I shared the vision I had set out in Florence for a creative and pragmatic approach to a new, deep and special partnership between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

A partnership based on the fundamental beliefs we share – in democracy and the rule of law, but also in free trade, rigorous and fair competition, strong consumer rights, and high regulatory standards.

Both sides have approached these talks with professionalism and a constructive spirit – and we should recognise what has been achieved to date.

Citizens’ rights

On citizens’ rights, both sides share the same objective of safeguarding the rights of EU nationals living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU.

This has been my first priority from the very beginning of the negotiations – and it remains so.

The negotiations are complicated and deeply technical but in the end they are about people – and I am determined that we will put people first.

EU citizens make an extraordinary contribution to our national life, enriching the economic, social and cultural fabric of our country – and we want them to stay.

I know that EU Member States also value the UK nationals living in their communities and I want them to have their rights protected too.

We are united on the key principles, and while there are a small number of issues that remain outstanding, we are in touching distance of a deal.

This agreement will provide certainty about residence, healthcare, pensions and other benefits.

It will mean that EU citizens who have paid into the UK system – and UK nationals who have paid into the system of an EU27 country – can benefit from what they have put in.

It will enable families who have built their lives together to stay together.

And it will provide guarantees that the rights of those UK nationals currently living in the EU, and EU citizens currently living in the UK, will not diverge over time.

We will also ensure that the implementation of the agreement we reach does not create complicated and bureaucratic hurdles.

So we are developing a streamlined digital process for those applying for settled status in the UK in the future.

This will cost no more than a UK passport. People applying will not have to account for every trip they have taken in and out of the UK and they will no longer have to demonstrate Comprehensive Sickness Insurance.

And there will be a simple process for any EU citizen who holds permanent residence under the old scheme to swap their current status for UK settled status.

To support this, we are setting up a User Group that will include representatives of EU citizens in the UK as well as digital, technical and legal experts.

And we will do everything possible to work closely with EU Member States to ensure their processes are equally streamlined for British nationals living in their countries.

Northern Ireland

We have also made significant progress on Northern Ireland, where it is absolutely imperative that joint work on the peace process is not affected in any way.

The Belfast agreement must be at the heart of our approach and we have clearly agreed that the unique circumstances across the whole of the island of Ireland will require specific solutions.

There will not be any physical infrastructure at the border and we have also developed joint principles to ensure the continuation of the Common Travel Area.

These principles will fully preserve the rights of UK and Irish nationals to live, work and study across these islands – and protect the associated rights to public services and social security.

No UK or Irish national will need to apply for settled status anywhere in the Common Travel Area at any stage in order to protect their entitlements.

And to provide legal certainty, the joint principles we have developed recognise that the Withdrawal Agreement should formally acknowledge that the UK and Ireland will continue to be able to uphold and develop these bi-lateral arrangements.

Moving forwards

Mr Speaker, this Council provided an opportunity to assess and reflect on how to make further progress in the negotiations.

My speech in Florence made two important steps which have added a new impetus.

First, I gave two firm commitments on the financial settlement: that the UK will honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership and that none of our EU partners should fear they will need to pay more or receive less over the remainder of the current budget plan as a result of our decision to leave.

As the House would expect, we are going through our potential commitments line by line and that detailed work continues.

And second, I proposed a time-limited implementation period based on current terms, which is in the interest of both the UK and the EU.

At this Council the 27 Member States responded by agreeing to start their preparations for moving negotiations onto trade and the future relationship we want to see.

The Council conclusions call for work to continue with a view to – and I quote – “consolidating the convergence achieved and pursuing negotiations in order to be able to move to the second phase of the negotiations as soon as possible.”

And President Tusk, in his press conference ,was clear that the EU’s internal work “will take account of proposals” presented in the Florence speech.

And indeed that this agreement to start preparatory discussions would not be possible without the new momentum given by that speech.

Conclusion

So Mr Speaker, I am ambitious and positive about Britain’s future and these negotiations.

If we are going to take a step forward together it must be on the basis of joint effort and endeavour between the UK and the EU.

But I believe that by approaching these negotiations in a constructive way – in a spirit of friendship and co-operation – we can and will deliver the best possible outcome that works for all our people.

As Chancellor Merkel said: “We haven’t reached a final agreement, but it’s going to happen.”

Mr Speaker, Chancellor Merkel is right.

We are going to leave the European Union in March 2019, delivering on the democratic will of the British people.

But while we must and will prepare for every eventuality, I am confident that we will do so in a smooth and orderly way and that we will be able to negotiate a new, deep and special partnership between a sovereign United Kingdom and our friends in the European Union.

That is my mission.

That is this Government’s mission.

And I commend this Statement to the House.

20/10/2017

BREXIT: European Council (Article 50)

On 20 October, the European Council (Article 50), in an EU 27 format, agreed to start internal preparations for the 2nd phase of the Brexit talks.

27 EU leaders called for more progress in the following three areas:

  • citizens’ rights
  • Ireland
  • financial obligations

They also said that at their summit in December they would reassess the state of progress to determine whether “sufficient progress” has been achieved on each of the three above issues. The European Council invited the Council (Art. 50) together with the Union negotiator to start internal preparatory discussions in relation to the framework for the future relationship and to possible transitional arrangements.

20/10/2017

BREXIT:  THERESA MAY’s European Council press statement: 20 October 2017

 

Theresa May addressed the press while in Brussels for a European Council summit

The United Kingdom will take its seat at the European Council table for another year and a half, and we have important work to achieve together in this time.

But cooperation with our European friends will not stop in March 2019.

The UK will stand alongside the EU, as a strong and committed partner, working to promote our shared interests and values.

Nowhere is this more important than in our approach to the global challenges we face.

Whether security and defence, migration or foreign policy issues – we face common opportunities and risks, and we must continue to address them together.

As I’ve said before, the UK is unconditionally committed to the security and defence of Europe. We share the vision of a strong, secure and successful EU, with global reach and influence. An EU capable of countering shared threats to our continent, working alongside a confident, outward-looking UK.

Yesterday we discussed a range of subjects including migration, the digital economy and some of the most pressing foreign policy issues, such as North Korea and Iran.

We stand united in our clear condemnation of North Korea’s aggressive and illegal missile and nuclear tests and urge all states, including China, to play their part in changing the course Pyongyang is taking.

On Iran, we have reiterated our firm commitment to the nuclear deal, which we believe is vitally important for our shared security.

THERESA MAY'S COMMENTS ON EXIT FROM THE EU

Exit from the EU

And last night at dinner, I spoke to my fellow leaders about my vision for a new, deep and special partnership between the UK and the European Union after Brexit.

A partnership based on the same set of fundamental beliefs – in not just democracy and rule of law, but also free trade, rigorous and fair competition, strong consumer rights, and high regulatory standards.

I am ambitious and positive for Britain’s future and for these negotiations. But I know we still have some way to go.

Both sides have approached these talks with professionalism and a constructive spirit. We should recognise what has been achieved to date.

The UK and the EU share the same objective of safeguarding the rights of EU nationals living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU.

EU citizens have made a huge contribution to our country and let me be clear that – whatever happens – we want them and their families to stay.

While there are a small number of issues that remain outstanding on citizens’ rights, I am confident that we are in touching distance of a deal.

On Northern Ireland, we have agreed that the Belfast agreement must be at the heart of our approach and that Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances demand specific solutions. It is vital that joint work on the peace process is not affected in any way – it is too important for that.

Both sides agree that there cannot be any physical infrastructure at the border and that the Common travel area must continue.

We have both committed to delivering a flexible and imaginative approach on this vital issue.

This Council is an important moment. It is a point at which to assess and reflect on how to make further progress.

My speech in Florence made two important steps, which have added a new impetus to the negotiations. I gave a firm commitment on the financial settlement and I proposed a time-limited implementation period based on current terms, which is in the interest of both the UK and the EU.

Both sides agree that subsequent rounds have been conducted in a new spirit. My fellow leaders have been discussing that this morning and I believe that it is in the interests of the UK that the EU 27 continues to take a united approach.

But if we are going to take a step forward together it must be on the basis of joint effort and endeavour.

We must work together to get to an outcome that we can stand behind and that works for all our people.

 

20/10/2017

BREXIT: European Council (Art. 50) conclusions

  1. In the light of the first five rounds of negotiations, taking into account the assessment presented by the Union negotiator and reaffirming its guidelines of 29 April 2017, the European Council:
  • welcomes the progress made regarding citizens’ rights and invites the negotiator to build on the convergence achieved so as to provide the necessary legal certainty and guarantees to all concerned citizens and their family members who shall be able to exercise directly their rights derived from EU law and protected by the withdrawal agreement, including through smooth and simple administrative procedures and the role of the Court of justice of the European Union;
  • acknowledges that, as regards Ireland, there has been some progress on convergence on principles and objectives regarding protection of the Good Friday Agreement and maintenance of the Common Travel Area, and invites the Union negotiator to pursue further refinement of these principles, taking into account the major challenge that the UK’s withdrawal represents, including as regards avoidance of a hard border, and therefore expecting the UK to present and commit to flexible and imaginative solutions called for by the unique situation of Ireland;
  • notes that, while the UK has stated that it will honour its financial obligations taken during its membership, this has not yet been translated into a firm and concrete commitment from the UK to settle all of these obligations.
  1. Building on this progress, the European Council calls for work to continue with a view to consolidating the convergence achieved and pursuing negotiations in order to be able to move to the second phase of the negotiations as soon as possible.

3. At its next session in December, the European Council will reassess the state of progress in the negotiations with a view to determining whether sufficient progress has been achieved on each of the three above issues. If so, it will adopt additional guidelines in relation to the framework for the future relationship and on possible transitional arrangements which are in the interest of the Union and comply with the conditions and core principles of the guidelines of 29 April 2017. Against this background, the European Council invites the Council (Art. 50) together with the Union negotiator to start internal preparatory discussions.

Read Conclusions in full here

16/10/2017

BREXIT:  Research for European Parliament AGRI Committee : EU-UK agricultural trade: state of play and possible impacts of Brexit

This report analyzes current UK-EU27 agri-food trade, and quantifies the impacts of a return to WTO rules after Brexit. Agri-food trade is likely to decrease steeply, especially for meat and dairy sectors. However, there might be an opportunity for an increase in production in a reduced number of European sectors, such as red meat, cattle or wheat, to replace imports from the UK. More generally, Ireland is likely to be the most negatively impacted country and deserves particular attention during the Brexit process.

Read the Study in full here

11/10/2017

BREXIT:  Joint letter from the EU and the UK Permanent Representatives to the WTO

European Union and United Kingdom engage with World Trade Organization members on certain issues arising from the UK’s withdrawal from the EU

The European Union and the United Kingdom today sent a joint letter to all members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), setting out their intended approach to certain WTO issues arising from the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.  This letter is the result of a constructive dialogue that the EU has been engaging in with the UK over the past months, covering WTO issues such as trade in goods, services and government procurement. The dialogue, which is outlined in European Council guidelines and the Council’s negotiating directives, aims at ensuring that the UK honours its share of the international commitments it has contracted into in the WTO during its EU membership, and at organising an orderly withdrawal in this respect.  Today’s joint letter marks the start of a cooperative and transparent engagement by the EU and the UK with all members of the WTO. When the UK leaves the EU, it will have its own separate schedules of commitments. Among other things, these schedules indicate the maximum tariff rates that can be applied to each specific type of imported product and the quantities of each product that can be imported duty-free or with a duty discount, known as tariff-rate quotas (TRQs). It is therefore necessary to address both the EU’s and the UK’s commitments regarding these quotas.  Today’s joint letter states that both sides intend to follow a common approach regarding existing EU TRQs and intend to apportion these quotas to reflect current trade flows in order to ensure that, after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, WTO members maintain exactly the same level of access as they enjoy now. The EU and UK will also follow a common approach regarding the ceilings on domestic subsidies for agriculture. This is without prejudice to the position the EU might take on other trade-related matters.

10/10/2017

BREXIT: General Affairs Council (Art. 50), 17/10/2017

Agenda highlights

Brexit negotiations

The Council, in an EU 27 format, will discuss the state of play of Brexit negotiations after five rounds of talks with the UK. Michel Barnier, the EU Chief Negotiator, will brief the ministers on the progress made so far.  This discussion will serve as preparation for the meeting of the EU27 heads of state or government at the European Council (Article 50) on 20 October 2017

Relocation of the two EU agencies

In the margins of the General Affairs Council (Article 50), EU27 ministers are also expected to hold a political discussion regarding the relocation of the two EU agencies currently located in the UK:

  •  European Medicines Agency
  •  European Banking Authority

The future location needs to be decided through a specific procedure endorsed by the EU27 leaders on 22 June 2017.

 

09/10/2017

BREXIT: 5TH ROUND OF NEGOTIATIONS 09-12 OCTOBER

Programme: 5th round of EU-UK Article 50 negotiations Brussels, 9-12 October 2017

 9 October 2017

  •  Technical working groups 

10 October 2017

  •  Coordinators’ Session 

12 October 2017

  •  Principals’ meeting
  • Press briefing (to be confirmed)

Note:

There are three technical working groups covering citizens’ rights, financial settlement and other separation issues. Horizontal issues, including governance, will be addressed by the Coordinators. Additional technical working groups may be scheduled during the week.

09/10/2017

Brexit: White Papers

Customs Bill: legislating for the UK’s future customs, VAT and excise regimes

Preparing for our future UK trade policy

This paper has 2 parts:

  1.   the first part outlines the world in which the UK trades and the role of trade in an economy that works for everyone
  2.   the second part outlines the basic principles that will shape our future trading framework, and our developing approach to a future trade policy

The latter includes 5 important components, and some specific areas where we are preparing the necessary legal powers now to ensure we are ready to operate independently as we exit the EU.

The paper welcomes views both on the specific legal powers we are seeking in this first step and on our broader developing approach. Read Paper in full

 

MORE ON THERESA MAY'S SPEECH

Economic partnership

Mr Speaker, I have been clear that when we leave the European Union we will no longer be members of its single market or its customs union.

The British people voted for control of their borders, their laws and their money. And that is what this government is going to deliver.

At the same time we want to find a creative solution to a new economic relationship that can support prosperity for all our peoples.

We do not want to settle for adopting a model enjoyed by other countries.

So we have rejected the idea of something based on European Economic Area membership. For this would mean having to adopt – automatically and in their entirety – new EU rules over which, in future, we will have little influence and no vote.

Neither are we seeking a Canadian-style free trade agreement. For compared with what exists today, this would represent such a restriction on our mutual market access that it would benefit none of our economies.

Instead I am proposing a unique and ambitious economic partnership. It will reflect our unprecedented position of starting with the same rules and regulations. We will maintain our unequivocal commitment to free trade and high standards. And we will need a framework to manage where we continue to align and where we choose to differ.

There will be areas of policy and regulation which are outside the scope of our trade and economic relations where this should be straightforward.

There will be areas which do affect our economic relations where we and our European friends may have different goals; or where we share the same goals but want to achieve them through different means.

And there will be areas where we want to achieve the same goals in the same ways, because it makes sense for our economies.

And because rights and obligations must be held in balance, the decisions we both take will have consequences for the UK’s access to the EU market – and EU access to our market.

But this dynamic, creative and unique economic partnership will enable the UK and the EU to work side by side in bringing shared prosperity to our peoples.

Security relationship

Let me turn to the new security relationship.

As I said when I visited our troops serving on the NATO mission in Estonia last month, the United Kingdom is unconditionally committed to maintaining Europe’s security.

And we will continue to offer aid and assistance to EU member states that are the victims of armed aggression, terrorism and natural or manmade disasters.

So we are proposing a bold new strategic agreement that provides a comprehensive framework for future security, law enforcement and criminal justice co-operation: a treaty between the UK and the EU.

We are also proposing a far reaching partnership on how together we protect Europe from the threats we face in the world today.

So this partnership will be unprecedented in its breadth and depth, taking in cooperation on diplomacy, defence and security, and development.

Implementation

Let me turn to how we build a bridge from where we are now to the new relationship that we want to see.

When we leave the European Union on 29th March 2019 neither the UK, nor the EU and its Members States, will be in a position to implement smoothly many of the detailed arrangements that will underpin this new relationship we seek.

Businesses will need time to adjust and governments will need to put new systems in place. And businesses want certainty about the position in the interim.

That is why I suggested in my speech at Lancaster House there should be a period of implementation – and why I proposed such a period in my speech in Florence last month.

During this strictly time-limited period, we will have left the EU and its institutions, but we are proposing that for this period access to one another’s markets should continue on current terms and Britain also should continue to take part in existing security measures.

The framework for this period, which can be agreed under Article 50, would be the existing structure of EU rules and regulations.

Now I know some people may have some concerns about this. But there are two reasons why it makes sense.

First, we want our departure from the EU to be as smooth as possible – it wouldn’t make sense to make people and businesses plan for two sets of changes in the relationship between the UK and the EU.

Second, we should concentrate our negotiating time and capital on what really matters – the future long-term relationship we will have with the EU after this temporary period ends.

During the implementation period, people will continue to be able to come and live and work in the UK; but there will be a registration system – an essential preparation for the new immigration system required to re-take control of our borders.

And our intention is that new arrivals would be subject to new rules for EU citizens on long term settlement.

We will also push forward on our future independent trade policy, talking to trading partners across the globe and preparing to introduce those deals once this period is over.

How long the period is should be determined simply by how long it will take to prepare and implement the new systems we need.

As of today, these considerations point to an implementation period of around two years.

And as I said in Florence – because I don’t believe that either the EU or the British people will want us to stay longer in the existing structures than necessary, we could also agree to bring forward aspects of that future framework, such as new dispute resolution mechanisms, more quickly if this can be done smoothly.

At the heart of these arrangements, there should be a clear double lock: guaranteeing a period of implementation giving businesses and people the certainty they will be able to prepare for the change; and guaranteeing this implementation period will be time-limited, giving everyone the certainty this will not go on forever.

Negotiations

Mr Speaker, the purpose of the Florence speech was to move the negotiations forward and that is exactly what has happened.

As Michel Barnier said after the last round, there is a “new dynamic” in the negotiations. And I want to pay tribute to my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union for all he has done to drive through real and tangible progress on a number of vital areas.

On citizens’ rights, as I have said many times this government greatly values the contributions of all EU citizens who have made their lives in our country. We want them to stay.

In Florence, I gave further commitments that the rights of EU citizens in the UK – and UK citizens in the EU – will not diverge over time, committing to incorporate our agreement on citizens’ rights fully into UK law and making sure the UK courts can refer directly to it.

Since Florence there has been more progress including reaching agreement on reciprocal healthcare and pensions, and encouraging further alignment on a range of important social security rights.

So I hope our negotiating teams can now reach full agreement quickly.

On Northern Ireland, we have now begun drafting joint principles on preserving the Common Travel Area and associated rights. And we have both stated explicitly we will not accept any physical infrastructure at the border.

We owe it to the people of Northern Ireland – and indeed to everyone on the island of Ireland – to get this right.

Then there is the question of the EU budget.

As I have said, this can only be resolved as part of the settlement of all the issues that we are working through.

Still I do not want our partners to fear that they will need to pay more or receive less over the remainder of the current budget plan as a result of our decision to leave. The UK will honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership.

And as we move forwards, we will also want to continue working together in ways that promote the long-term economic development of our continent.

This includes continuing to take part in those specific policies and programmes which are greatly to our joint advantage, such as those that promote science, education and culture – and those that promote our mutual security.

And as I set out in my speech at Lancaster House, in doing so, we would want to make a contribution to cover our fair share of the costs involved.

Mr Speaker, I continued discussions on many of these issues when I met with European leaders in Tallinn at the end of last month.

And in the bi-lateral discussions I have had with Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Szydlo, President Tusk and the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, they welcomed the tone set in Florence and the impact this was having on moving the negotiations forwards.

Legislation

Mr Speaker, preparing for life outside the EU is also about the legislative steps we take.

Our EU Withdrawal Bill will shortly enter Committee Stage, carrying over EU rules and regulations into our domestic law from the moment we leave the EU.

And today we are publishing two White Papers on trade and customs. These pave the way for legislation to allow the UK to operate as an independent trading nation and to create an innovative customs system that will help us achieve the greatest possible tariff and barrier-free trade as we leave the EU.

And while I believe it is profoundly in all our interests for the negotiations to succeed, it is also our responsibility as a government to prepare for every eventuality. So that is exactly what we are doing.

These White Papers also support that work, including setting out steps to minimise disruption for businesses and travellers.

Conclusion

Mr Speaker, a new, deep and special partnership between a sovereign United Kingdom and a strong and successful European Union is our ambition and our offer to our European friends.

Achieving that partnership will require leadership and flexibility, not just from us but from our friends, the 27 nations of the EU.

And as we look forward to the next stage, the ball is in their court. But I am optimistic it will receive a positive response.

Because what we are seeking is not just the best possible deal for us – but I believe that will also be the best possible deal for our European friends too.

So while, of course, progress will not always be smooth; by approaching these negotiations in a constructive way – in a spirit of friendship and co-operation and with our sights firmly set on the future – I believe we can prove the doomsayers wrong.

And I believe we can seize the opportunities of this defining moment in the history of our nation.

Mr Speaker, a lot of the day to day coverage is about process. But this, on the other hand, is vitally important.

I am determined to deliver what the British people voted for and to get it right.

That is my duty as Prime Minister.

It is our duty as a Government.

And it is what we will do.

And I commend this Statement to the House.

09/10/2017

Brexit: Statement by Theresa May, Prime Minister, to Parliament after her Florence speech on the Brexit negotiations.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to update the House on our plans for leaving the European Union.

Today the fifth round of negotiations begins in Brussels and this government is getting on with the job of delivering the democratic will of the British people.

As I set out in my speech in Florence we want to take a creative and pragmatic approach to securing a new, deep and special partnership with the European Union which spans both a new economic relationship and a new security relationship.

So let me set out what each of these relationships could look like – before turning to how we get there.

MORE ON THERESA MAY'S SPEECH

Economic partnership

Mr Speaker, I have been clear that when we leave the European Union we will no longer be members of its single market or its customs union.

The British people voted for control of their borders, their laws and their money. And that is what this government is going to deliver.

At the same time we want to find a creative solution to a new economic relationship that can support prosperity for all our peoples.

We do not want to settle for adopting a model enjoyed by other countries.

So we have rejected the idea of something based on European Economic Area membership. For this would mean having to adopt – automatically and in their entirety – new EU rules over which, in future, we will have little influence and no vote.

Neither are we seeking a Canadian-style free trade agreement. For compared with what exists today, this would represent such a restriction on our mutual market access that it would benefit none of our economies.

Instead I am proposing a unique and ambitious economic partnership. It will reflect our unprecedented position of starting with the same rules and regulations. We will maintain our unequivocal commitment to free trade and high standards. And we will need a framework to manage where we continue to align and where we choose to differ.

There will be areas of policy and regulation which are outside the scope of our trade and economic relations where this should be straightforward.

There will be areas which do affect our economic relations where we and our European friends may have different goals; or where we share the same goals but want to achieve them through different means.

And there will be areas where we want to achieve the same goals in the same ways, because it makes sense for our economies.

And because rights and obligations must be held in balance, the decisions we both take will have consequences for the UK’s access to the EU market – and EU access to our market.

But this dynamic, creative and unique economic partnership will enable the UK and the EU to work side by side in bringing shared prosperity to our peoples.

Security relationship

Let me turn to the new security relationship.

As I said when I visited our troops serving on the NATO mission in Estonia last month, the United Kingdom is unconditionally committed to maintaining Europe’s security.

And we will continue to offer aid and assistance to EU member states that are the victims of armed aggression, terrorism and natural or manmade disasters.

So we are proposing a bold new strategic agreement that provides a comprehensive framework for future security, law enforcement and criminal justice co-operation: a treaty between the UK and the EU.

We are also proposing a far reaching partnership on how together we protect Europe from the threats we face in the world today.

So this partnership will be unprecedented in its breadth and depth, taking in cooperation on diplomacy, defence and security, and development.

Implementation

Let me turn to how we build a bridge from where we are now to the new relationship that we want to see.

When we leave the European Union on 29th March 2019 neither the UK, nor the EU and its Members States, will be in a position to implement smoothly many of the detailed arrangements that will underpin this new relationship we seek.

Businesses will need time to adjust and governments will need to put new systems in place. And businesses want certainty about the position in the interim.

That is why I suggested in my speech at Lancaster House there should be a period of implementation – and why I proposed such a period in my speech in Florence last month.

During this strictly time-limited period, we will have left the EU and its institutions, but we are proposing that for this period access to one another’s markets should continue on current terms and Britain also should continue to take part in existing security measures.

The framework for this period, which can be agreed under Article 50, would be the existing structure of EU rules and regulations.

Now I know some people may have some concerns about this. But there are two reasons why it makes sense.

First, we want our departure from the EU to be as smooth as possible – it wouldn’t make sense to make people and businesses plan for two sets of changes in the relationship between the UK and the EU.

Second, we should concentrate our negotiating time and capital on what really matters – the future long-term relationship we will have with the EU after this temporary period ends.

During the implementation period, people will continue to be able to come and live and work in the UK; but there will be a registration system – an essential preparation for the new immigration system required to re-take control of our borders.

And our intention is that new arrivals would be subject to new rules for EU citizens on long term settlement.

We will also push forward on our future independent trade policy, talking to trading partners across the globe and preparing to introduce those deals once this period is over.

How long the period is should be determined simply by how long it will take to prepare and implement the new systems we need.

As of today, these considerations point to an implementation period of around two years.

And as I said in Florence – because I don’t believe that either the EU or the British people will want us to stay longer in the existing structures than necessary, we could also agree to bring forward aspects of that future framework, such as new dispute resolution mechanisms, more quickly if this can be done smoothly.

At the heart of these arrangements, there should be a clear double lock: guaranteeing a period of implementation giving businesses and people the certainty they will be able to prepare for the change; and guaranteeing this implementation period will be time-limited, giving everyone the certainty this will not go on forever.

Negotiations

Mr Speaker, the purpose of the Florence speech was to move the negotiations forward and that is exactly what has happened.

As Michel Barnier said after the last round, there is a “new dynamic” in the negotiations. And I want to pay tribute to my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union for all he has done to drive through real and tangible progress on a number of vital areas.

On citizens’ rights, as I have said many times this government greatly values the contributions of all EU citizens who have made their lives in our country. We want them to stay.

In Florence, I gave further commitments that the rights of EU citizens in the UK – and UK citizens in the EU – will not diverge over time, committing to incorporate our agreement on citizens’ rights fully into UK law and making sure the UK courts can refer directly to it.

Since Florence there has been more progress including reaching agreement on reciprocal healthcare and pensions, and encouraging further alignment on a range of important social security rights.

So I hope our negotiating teams can now reach full agreement quickly.

On Northern Ireland, we have now begun drafting joint principles on preserving the Common Travel Area and associated rights. And we have both stated explicitly we will not accept any physical infrastructure at the border.

We owe it to the people of Northern Ireland – and indeed to everyone on the island of Ireland – to get this right.

Then there is the question of the EU budget.

As I have said, this can only be resolved as part of the settlement of all the issues that we are working through.

Still I do not want our partners to fear that they will need to pay more or receive less over the remainder of the current budget plan as a result of our decision to leave. The UK will honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership.

And as we move forwards, we will also want to continue working together in ways that promote the long-term economic development of our continent.

This includes continuing to take part in those specific policies and programmes which are greatly to our joint advantage, such as those that promote science, education and culture – and those that promote our mutual security.

And as I set out in my speech at Lancaster House, in doing so, we would want to make a contribution to cover our fair share of the costs involved.

Mr Speaker, I continued discussions on many of these issues when I met with European leaders in Tallinn at the end of last month.

And in the bi-lateral discussions I have had with Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Szydlo, President Tusk and the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, they welcomed the tone set in Florence and the impact this was having on moving the negotiations forwards.

Legislation

Mr Speaker, preparing for life outside the EU is also about the legislative steps we take.

Our EU Withdrawal Bill will shortly enter Committee Stage, carrying over EU rules and regulations into our domestic law from the moment we leave the EU.

And today we are publishing two White Papers on trade and customs. These pave the way for legislation to allow the UK to operate as an independent trading nation and to create an innovative customs system that will help us achieve the greatest possible tariff and barrier-free trade as we leave the EU.

And while I believe it is profoundly in all our interests for the negotiations to succeed, it is also our responsibility as a government to prepare for every eventuality. So that is exactly what we are doing.

These White Papers also support that work, including setting out steps to minimise disruption for businesses and travellers.

Conclusion

Mr Speaker, a new, deep and special partnership between a sovereign United Kingdom and a strong and successful European Union is our ambition and our offer to our European friends.

Achieving that partnership will require leadership and flexibility, not just from us but from our friends, the 27 nations of the EU.

And as we look forward to the next stage, the ball is in their court. But I am optimistic it will receive a positive response.

Because what we are seeking is not just the best possible deal for us – but I believe that will also be the best possible deal for our European friends too.

So while, of course, progress will not always be smooth; by approaching these negotiations in a constructive way – in a spirit of friendship and co-operation and with our sights firmly set on the future – I believe we can prove the doomsayers wrong.

And I believe we can seize the opportunities of this defining moment in the history of our nation.

Mr Speaker, a lot of the day to day coverage is about process. But this, on the other hand, is vitally important.

I am determined to deliver what the British people voted for and to get it right.

That is my duty as Prime Minister.

It is our duty as a Government.

And it is what we will do.

And I commend this Statement to the House.

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