Brussels Daily
31 Aug 2017


Brussels Daily

Excerpt from Speech by Michel Barnier at the press conference following the third round of Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom


Greetings to each and every one of you,

David Davis and I, along with our teams, have just completed this third round of negotiations. Teams that I personally want to thank, on both sides, for their commitment and competence.


Monday, welcoming David, I said “I am concerned,”.

Time is passing and every passing day brings us closer to the UK’s departure date from the European Union on 29 March 2019 at midnight.

The fundamental question which we must answer is whether on that day, midnight on 29 March 2019, we will have organized the orderly withdrawal or if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without an agreement , with all the consequences we have already explained.


On our side, in our common interest, we believe that an agreement is the best way out.

Ladies and gentlemen, This week we have provided useful clarifications on many issues, such as the status of cross-border workers, the aggregation or aggregation of social security rights and the procedures currently under way in the Court of Justice, three. But we have not made any decisive progress on the main subjects, although I wish to say that the discussion we have had on Ireland has been fruitful. On this subject, which I continue to follow personally, and indeed all the others, we have made real progress on the issue of the Common Travel Area on the basis of the guarantees given by the United Kingdom and we have clarified the work Which remains to be done, in a constructive way, notably on North-South cooperation under the Good Friday Agreement.


But, I repeat, time is running short to achieve, as we wish, a global agreement.At the current rate, we are far from seeing sufficient progress to be able to recommend to the European Council that we begin the discussion on the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union at the same time as we will finalize throughout the year 2018 the withdrawal agreement.That is our side of the third round.I would like, since I have the opportunity to speak to you today, to recall three points on the general framework of this negotiation which must be well understood and sometimes better understood.This negotiation is unusual and unprecedented.It is particularly true for the European Commission, which, with all the expertise of its services, I am indebted to, under the authority of President Juncker, within the framework of a mandate which was set from the outset, First day by the 27 Heads of State and Government meeting in the European Council under the chairmanship of Donald Tusk.

And of course, we work with the total confidence of  the European Parliament, its President Antonio Tajani, the European Parliament, which voted by a very large majority by voting a resolution. I recommend that no one underestimate this role of the European Parliament. It is this mandate, adopted unanimously by the 27 heads of state and government that I implement scrupulously. This mandate is clear and precise: • It organizes sequencing. He simply asks us to put things in order to succeed.• It clearly mentions the conditions for a transitional period if requested by the United Kingdom.• And he asks us to organize this orderly withdrawal taking into account a future relationship, which I myself called the “new partnership”, the new partnership. Those who would look for the slightest difference between what this European negotiating team is doing and what the 27 Member States want are wasting their time.


Secondly, as stipulated precisely in the Guidelines of the European Council, protecting the EU legal order and protecting the integrity of the Single Market are core principles of my mandate.

The UK decided to leave the European Union.

The UK government decided to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union.

We respect this sovereign decision.

But one thing is clear: The Single Market, the EU capacity to regulate, to supervise, to enforce our laws, must not and will not be undermined by Brexit.

The UK strongly contributed to the development of our single market which is the foundation of the EU. It understands well, very well, how it works.

The European Council guidelines state that the Union will preserve its autonomy of decision-making.

The UK wants to take back control, it wants to adopt its own standards and regulations.

But it also wants to have these standards recognised automatically in the EU. That is what UK papers ask for.

This is simply impossible. You cannot be outside the Single Market and shape its legal order.

Thirdly, the first phase of this negotiation is about creating trust.

Let me take two examples where we still need to build trust.


On citizens’ rights

We have clarified a few points this week, but we need to go further to reassure citizens.

Over the summer, around one hundred EU and EEA citizens living lawfully in the UK received deportation letters.

The UK government quickly recognised that this was a mistake.

But this is not the first time that something like this has happened.

It reinforces the need to ensure that citizens’ rights are directly enforceable in front of national jurisdictions, under the control of the European Court of justice, a point on which we disagree today.


On the financial settlement

EU taxpayers should not pay at 27 for the obligations undertaken at 28. This would not be fair.

In July, the UK recognised that it has obligations beyond the Brexit date.

But this week the UK explained that these obligations will be limited to their last payment to the EU budget before departure.

Yet we have joint obligations towards third countries. For example:

  • We have guaranteed long-term loans to Ukraine, together.
  • We jointly support development in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific countries through the European Development Fund.

After this week, it is clear that the UK does not feel legally obliged to honour these obligations after departure.

We have also jointly committed to support innovative enterprises and green infrastructure in European regions until 2020. These are not recognised by the UK as legal obligations.

With such uncertainty, how can we build trust and start discussing a future relationship?

We need to address together these issues seriously and rigorously.

Read SPEECH/17/3043 in full here


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