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Preparatory documents

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.

 

Find out what IFA has been working on in Brussels this week.

Read More

Press statement by Michel Barnier following the fifth round of Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom

Good afternoon to all of you.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear David,

Theresa May’s Florence speech has given these negotiations much needed momentum.

We worked constructively this week. We clarified certain points. But without making any great steps forward.

We still have a common goal: the desire to reach an agreement on the UK’s withdrawal and to outline our future relationship, when the time comes. From the EU side, this is what President Donald Tusk very clearly said three days ago.

Our negotiations are framed within in this perspective.

We share the same objectives as the UK:

  • To protect the rights of all citizens concerned regarding the consequences of withdrawal.
  • To preserve the peace process in Northern Ireland and cooperation on the island of Ireland.
  • To honour at 28 the commitments taken at 28.

For us, from the EU side, achieving and realising these three big objectives is the condition for engaging in a discussion, as soon as possible, on a new ambitious, long-lasting partnership.

Where are we at the end of this fifth round?

More precisely, on each of the main subjects linked to the UK’s withdrawal:

1 On citizens’ rights:

  • We have two common objectives:
  1. That the Withdrawal Agreement has direct effect, which is essential to guarantee the rights of all citizens in the long-term.
  1. That the interpretation of these rights is fully consistent in the European Union and in the United Kingdom.
  • On these points, we will continue to work on the specific instruments and mechanisms which will allow us to translate this into reality. This means for us the role of the European Court of Justice.
  • Furthermore, divergences still exist on the possibility of family reunification and on the exportation of social benefits after Brexit, both of which we want.
  • For us, for example, it is important that any European citizen living in the UK can – in 10 or 15 years’ time – bring his/her parents to the UK, as would be the case for British citizens living in the EU.
  • In the same vain, an EU citizen who has worked for 20 years in the UK should be able to move to an EU Member State and still benefit from his/her disability allowance, under the same conditions as British citizens in the EU.
  • Finally, an important point for the Member States of the Union: the UK has informed us of its intention to put in place a simplified procedure which allows citizens to assert their rights. We will study attentively the practical details of this procedure, which should really be simple for citizens.
  1. On Ireland, ladies and gentlemen:
  • This week we advanced on the joint principles on the continuation of the Common Travel Area and  I welcome this.
  • We continued our intensive work on mapping out areas of cooperation that operate on a North South basis on the island of Ireland.
  • There is more work to do in order to build a full picture of the challenges to North-South cooperation resulting from the UK, and therefore Northern Ireland, leaving the EU legal framework.
  • This is necessary in order to identify the solutions.
  • This week, we agreed that the six principles proposed by the EU in September would guide our work on protecting the Good Friday Agreement in all its dimensions.
  1. Finally, on the financial settlement:
  • Theresa May confirmed in her Florence speech that the UK will honour commitments it has made during the period of its membership. This is an important commitment.
  • The UK told us again this week that it still could not clarify these commitments. Therefore, there was no negotiation on this, but we did have technical discussions which were useful, albeit technical.
  • We are, therefore, at a deadlock on this question. This is extremely worrying for European taxpayers and those who benefit from EU policies.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is my summary of our work on the three main topics this week.

On this basis, and as things stand at present, I am not able to recommend to the European Council next week to open discussions on the future relationship.

I will say before you again that trust is needed between us if this future relationship is to be solid, ambitious and long-lasting. This trust will come with clarity and the respect of all commitments made together.

*

Ladies and gentlemen,

Before concluding, I would like to make just one observation.

At one of our recent press conferences, one of you asked me when the European Union would be “ready to make concessions.”

We will not ask the UK to “make concessions”. The agreement that we are working towards will not be built on “concessions.”

This is not about making “concessions” on the rights of citizens.

This is not about making “concessions” on the peace process in Northern Ireland.

This is not about making “concessions” on the thousands of investment projects and the men and women involved in them in Europe.

In these complex and difficult negotiations, we have shared objectives, we have shared obligations, we have shared duties, and we will only succeed with shared solutions. That is our responsibility.

*

Since Florence, there is a new dynamic. I remain convinced that with political will, decisive progress is within our reach in the coming weeks.

My responsibility as the Commission’s negotiator, on behalf of the European Union, and with the trust of President Juncker, is to find the way to make progress, while fully respecting the conditions of the European Council, as agreed unanimously on 29 April – which is my mandate – and in constant dialogue with the European Parliament who has twice voiced its opinion, by a very large majority.

That is my mind-set a couple of days ahead of the next European Council

Thank you.

David Davis’ closing remarks at the end of the fifth round of EU exit negotiations in Brussels

Thank you Michel.

At the last round of talks we spoke of a new dynamic and Michel has referred to that.

Our negotiating teams have continued to work constructively together in a professional and determined manner this week.

And they have developed as Michel says, an increased sense of shared political objectives.

Now while there is still work to be done, much work to be done, we have come a long way.

And it is important to recognise the significant progress we have made since June.

Let me, as Michael did, take the issues in turn.

Citizens’ rights

On citizens’ rights, we have made further progress to give British citizens in the EU and EU27 citizens in the UK the greatest possible legal certainty about the future.

Our legal orders will, in the future, be distinct and different.

So this week we explored ways of making sure the rights we agree now will be enforced in a fair and equivalent way.

And in a way that gives citizens confidence that their rights will be upheld.

We have also explored ways in which we could fulfil the Prime Minister’s commitment to implement the Withdrawal Treaty fully into UK law which would give confidence to EU citizens living in the UK that they would be able to enforce their rights – as are set out in the Agreement – in UK courts.

And we have discussed ways of ensuring the consistent interpretation of the concepts of EU law that will underpin much of our Agreement.

While we have not yet arrived at a single model that achieves this we have explored creative solutions and are confident that we’ll reach an agreement soon.

We have also focussed this week on the other remaining issues on which we have not yet arrived at a solution and Michel referred to a few of them. These are:

  • the right to bring in future family members;
  • to export a range of benefits;
  • to continue to enjoy the recognition of professional qualifications;
  • to vote in local elections;
  • to move within the 27 as a UK citizen;
  • to leave for a prolonged period and yet continue to enjoy a right to remain or permanent right of residence on return.

These issues are not easy, but we have approached them with a shared spirit of trying to find solutions and both teams will now reflect further on that.

We are taking a pragmatic approach. As demonstrated by our offer of a guaranteed right of return for settled citizens in the UK in return for onward movement rights for UK citizens currently living in the EU. We look forward to hearing the European Union’s response to this.

I want to highlight one particularly productive area of our talks this week.

And I recognise that there has been some anxiety about EU citizens rights to settled status in the United Kingdom.

But today I can confirm that we want to reassure those European citizens living in the UK that their rights and status will be enshrined in UK law by the Withdrawal Agreement.

And yes, there will be a registration process but the administration process will be completely new. It will be streamlined, and it will be low cost.

And in addition to that any EU citizen in the UK already in possession of a permanent residence card will be able to exchange it simply for settled status in a simple way. They will not have to go through the full application process again.

And to reassure those affected I can confirm that the tests associated with this process will be agreed and set out in our Withdrawal Agreement.

We will also make sure that citizens rights of review of – and redress for – any errors will be quick, accessible and fair.

I will set out our position on ensuring citizens’ future rights in a statement for the Commission, a written statement, which they can share with the European Union 27.

And as a result of our productive discussions, the Commission is also able to offer similar guarantees in return for those British citizens in the European Union.

This is a very welcome clarification and has built real confidence that the rights of EU citizens in the UK – and British citizens in the European Union – will continue to be accessible in the most straightforward way possible.

In summary, I think that this week of talks has brought us even closer to a deal that gives citizens rights to the legal certainty that they deserve.

Northern Ireland

I welcome the advances too that we have made on the discussions on Northern Ireland and Ireland.

This week we developed the joint principles on the continuation of the Common Travel Area.

Our teams have also mapped out areas of cooperation that operate on a North South basis.

As Michel said, there is more work to do here in order to build a fuller picture of how we overcome the challenges to North-South cooperation once the UK has left the European Union.

But I’m pleased to say we have made further progress here.

We have also agreed, based on critical guiding principles which both sides recognise, we will start working on a common understanding on possible commitments and undertakings necessary to effectively protect the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement in all its dimensions.

I said last time that we were determined to tackle the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland by focusing creatively on specific solutions and we have begun to do so.

As the Prime Minister said in her statement to Parliament this week, “We owe it to the people of Northern Ireland—and indeed to everyone on the island of Ireland—to get this right.”

Financial settlement

On the financial settlement, we have continued in the spirit fostered by the Prime Minister’s significant statements in her Florence speech.

In line with the process agreed at our last round of talks, we have undertaken a rigorous examination of the technical detail where we need to reach a shared view.

This is not a process of agreeing specific commitments – we have been clear this can only come later.

But it is an important step, so that when the time comes we will be able to reach a political agreement quickly and simply.

Separation issues

On separation issues we have continued to work through the detail on a range of issues.

And while we have made good progress, particularly on those areas relating purely to our withdrawal, we believe these issues are dependent on discussions on our future relationship.

And as I’ve said before, we are ready and well-prepared to start those discussions.

Conclusion

So, our aim is to provide as much certainty as possible to business, citizens and the European Union.

And on this we are making real and tangible progress.

But I make no secret of the fact that to provide certainty we must talk about the future.

The Prime Minister’s speech set out the scale of our ambition for our deep and special partnership with the European Union.

And also laid out the case for a simple, clear and time-limited period of implementation on current terms.

As I said when I stood here last time, I hope the leaders of the 27 will provide Michel with the means to explore ways forward with us on that.

And to build on the spirit of cooperation we now have.

I have always been clear that we would enter these negotiations in a constructive and responsible way.

The work of our teams and the substantial progress that we have made over recent months proves we are doing just that.

As we look to the October European Council next week, I hope the Member States will recognise the progress we have made, and take a step forward in the spirit of the Prime Minister’s Florence speech.

Doing so will allow us to best achieve our joint objectives by turning the ideas we have explored into concrete shared proposals.

That’s the way that we’ll move towards a deal that works for both the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Agenda highlights

Non-ETS sectors

Ministers will discuss two legislative proposals to cut greenhouse gas emissions in sectors not covered by the ETS – the effort-sharing regulation and the regulation on land-use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) – with a view to agreeing on a general approach for each of the files.

COP23 – UN Climate Change Conference

The Council will adopt conclusions on the Paris Agreement and preparations for the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which will take place from 6-17 November 2017 in Bonn.

UN Environment Assembly

The Council will adopt conclusions on the EU’s priorities for the 3rd meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-3). UNEA-3 will be held from 4-6 December 2017 in Nairobi.

Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, will join ministers for a working lunch to prepare for the Assembly.

MAIN NEWS

EU calls for  ambition ahead of the WTO Ministerial Conference

Ahead of the upcoming ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to be held in Buenos Aires between 10 and 13 December 2017, the EU called upon its partners for more ambition. Meeting her WTO counterparts in Marrakesh, Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “The time for ambition is now. The multilateral forum remains the best way to deal with international trade issues and the EU continues to strongly support the work of the WTO. If we want to have a positive outcome in Buenos Aires in December, then we need to focus and pick up the pace. The EU has put forward several proposals on critical issues that today’s trade policy must address. We hope and expect that other WTO members will engage constructively.” Members of the Cairns group (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, New Zealand, Malaysia, Pakistan, Peru, Thailand, Uruguay and Vietnam) have joined the EU in reaffirming their commitment to tackling the most trade distorting domestic support in agriculture in a joint statement issued to that effect yesterday. Ahead of the Buenos Aires Ministerial Conference, the EU leads the way on six specific proposals: a proposal related to agriculture subsidies aiming a to improve a global level-playing field for farmers, proposals on horizontal and fisheries-specific subsidies, on regulations related to trade in services and e-commerce, and on transparency. More information on EU proposals is available on the Commission website.

 

Fair Taxation: Commission welcomes new rules to resolve tax disputes

The European Commission welcomes EU Member States’ formal green light for new rules to better resolve tax disputes. The decision taken by EU finance ministers at the ECOFIN Council meeting in Luxembourg today will ensure that businesses and citizens can resolve disputes related to the interpretation of tax treaties more swiftly and effectively. It will also cover issues related to double taxation – a major obstacle for businesses, creating uncertainty, unnecessary costs and cash-flow problems. Double taxation refers to cases where two or more countries claim the right to tax the same income or profits of a company or person. It can occur, for example, due to a mismatch in national rules or different interpretations of a bilateral tax treaty with regards transfer pricing arrangements. Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “We proposed this new system to improve legal certainty and EU competitiveness by creating a binding obligation on Member States’ authorities to resolve tax disputes in a timely manner. This is an important step to allow EU citizens and businesses alike to have fair tax treatment. I commend the quick action of Member States and the European Parliament to support this upgrade of the current rules.” The improvements to the current rules agreed by EU finance ministers in Luxembourg will give taxpayers much more certainty when it comes to seeking resolution to their interpretation of tax treaties or double taxation problems. A full press release is available online.

 
EU calls for  ambition ahead of the WTO Ministerial Conference

Ahead of the upcoming ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to be held in Buenos Aires between 10 and 13 December 2017, the EU called upon its partners for more ambition. Meeting her WTO counterparts in Marrakesh, Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “The time for ambition is now. The multilateral forum remains the best way to deal with international trade issues and the EU continues to strongly support the work of the WTO. If we want to have a positive outcome in Buenos Aires in December, then we need to focus and pick up the pace. The EU has put forward several proposals on critical issues that today’s trade policy must address. We hope and expect that other WTO members will engage constructively.” Members of the Cairns group (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, New Zealand, Malaysia, Pakistan, Peru, Thailand, Uruguay and Vietnam) have joined the EU in reaffirming their commitment to tackling the most trade distorting domestic support in agriculture in a joint statement issued to that effect yesterday. Ahead of the Buenos Aires Ministerial Conference, the EU leads the way on six specific proposals: a proposal related to agriculture subsidies aiming a to improve a global level-playing field for farmers, proposals on horizontal and fisheries-specific subsidies, on regulations related to trade in services and e-commerce, and on transparency. More information on EU proposals is available on the Commission website.

 

Fair Taxation: Commission welcomes new rules to resolve tax disputes

The European Commission welcomes EU Member States’ formal green light for new rules to better resolve tax disputes. The decision taken by EU finance ministers at the ECOFIN Council meeting in Luxembourg today will ensure that businesses and citizens can resolve disputes related to the interpretation of tax treaties more swiftly and effectively. It will also cover issues related to double taxation – a major obstacle for businesses, creating uncertainty, unnecessary costs and cash-flow problems. Double taxation refers to cases where two or more countries claim the right to tax the same income or profits of a company or person. It can occur, for example, due to a mismatch in national rules or different interpretations of a bilateral tax treaty with regards transfer pricing arrangements. Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “We proposed this new system to improve legal certainty and EU competitiveness by creating a binding obligation on Member States’ authorities to resolve tax disputes in a timely manner. This is an important step to allow EU citizens and businesses alike to have fair tax treatment. I commend the quick action of Member States and the European Parliament to support this upgrade of the current rules.” The improvements to the current rules agreed by EU finance ministers in Luxembourg will give taxpayers much more certainty when it comes to seeking resolution to their interpretation of tax treaties or double taxation problems. A full press release is available online.

 

EU countries should use pesticides more sustainably

The report on the sustainable use of pesticides Directive adopted today by the Commission takes stock of progress made by the EU Member States in applying measures to reduce the risks and impacts of pesticides. It covers a wide range of topics such as aerial spraying, information to the public or training of professionals. The report indicates insufficient implementation of the Directive on the sustainable use of pesticides. Commenting on the report, Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “I know first-hand that citizens are concerned about the impact of the use of pesticides on their health and the environment. We take these concerns into consideration and we are working with the Member States to achieve sustainable use of pesticides in the way we grow and produce our food. I will continue encouraging and supporting Member States in their task of implementing the measures to reduce risks derived from the use of pesticides”. The full press release is available here.

 

Mergers: Commission clears the creation of a joint venture by AES and Siemens

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture by AES Corporation Inc. of the US and Siemens AG of Germany. The joint venture, based in the US and called Fluence Energy LLC will develop and market battery-based energy storage solutions. AES is a global power company and Siemens is active in a number of industrial areas. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of the limited overlap between the companies’ activities. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8555.

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of the Williams Lea business by Advent

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Williams Lea Tag GmbH of Germany, Williams Lea Holdings, Inc. of the US and Williams Lea Holdings Limited of the UK, together forming the Williams Lea business, by Advent International of the US. The Williams Lea business is active in the provision of marketing communications services and business document process outsourcing. Advent International is a private equity investment firm with portfolio companies active in various business sectors. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the overlaps between the activities of the Williams Lea business and Advent International’s portfolio companies are limited. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8645.

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Jimmy Choo by Michael Kors

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Jimmy Choo PLC of the UK, by Michael Kors Holdings Limited incorporated in British Virgin Islands. Jimmy Choo is a fashion brand specialising in luxury footwear and accessories. Michael Kors is a global luxury accessories, footwear and apparel company. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the companies’ moderate combined market positions resulting from the proposed transaction. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M. 8624.

 

Commission gathers Industry and Member States to drive battery production in the EU

On Wednesday 11 October, the European Commission will host a high level meeting on battery development and production in Europe. Representatives of the European industry, Member States and financial institutions will participate. Following President Juncker‘s SOTEU speech where he presented a new Industrial Policy Strategy that “will help our industries stay or become the world leader in innovation, digitisation and decarbonisation“, this initiative aims at identifying and exploring opportunities to complete the gaps in the battery value chain in Europe and discuss actions needed for the EU to remain competitive. Amongst a wide panel of actions, the new industrial policy puts forward new proposals for clean, competitive and connected mobility, including tightened CO2 emissions standards for cars and vans, an Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Action Plan to support the deployment of charging infrastructure, and actions to foster autonomous driving. Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovic who will host themeeting, said: “Batteries represent a key enabling technology in the context of the Energy Union. Their development and production play a strategic role in the ongoing transition to clean mobility and clean energy systems. Its potential should not be left untapped in the EU and we all need to pull in the same direction. Ultimately, it is about making the European industry stronger and more competitive, about creating jobs based on cutting edge technologies, and about leading the fight against climate change.” The Commission has supported the development of batteries as a key enabling technology for achieving EU climate and energy goals. It’s most recent Communication “Europe on the Move” sets out an agenda for a transition to clean, competitive, and connected mobility in Europe. Therein batteries have been identified as one of the flagship initiatives under the Energy Union Strategy. Also the Industrial Policy Strategy highlights the strategic importance of investments in batteries and the need to kick-start industry-led initiatives for a full battery value chain in the EU. Finally, building on Europe’s leadership in a low-carbon and circular economy, this helps the EU to implement its Paris Agreement commitments. The Commission is ready to step up its work with Member States and stakeholders to support industry-led initiatives. A press point with Vice-President Šefčovič on the outcome of the meeting will take place in the Berlaymont VIP corner at 16:00 CET, Europe by Satellite will transmit live.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Commissioner Thyssen visits Romania and participates in Citizens’ Dialogue

Tomorrow and Thursday, 11 and 12 October, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, will go on a two-day visit to Romania. She will first meet with Minister of Labour and Social Justice Olguta Vasilescu. The meeting will be an occasion to discuss the ongoing Council negotiations on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive, as well as the Romanian labour market challenges highlighted in the framework of the European Semester and the reforms the government has taken so far to address them. During her stay, Commissioner Thyssen will also meet with Minister for Public Consultation and Social Dialogue, Mr Gabriel Petrea, Minister of Development, Mrs Sevil Shhaideh, and Mrs Rovana Plumb, Minister-delegate of EU Funds of Romania. To conclude the first day of the visit, the Commissioner will attend a dinner with trade union and business representatives to discuss the role of social dialogue. On Thursday, Commissioner Thyssen will participate in a Citizens’ Dialogue on the future of (social) Europe and the European Pillar of Social Rights, which can be watched here. At the start of the event, she will open an exhibition on ’60 years of EU’ together with Romanian Minister-delegate Plumb. Commissioner Thyssen and Minister-delegate Plumb will conclude the day together by visiting a project supported by the European Social Fund at the Medical University of Iasi.

 

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