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08 December 2017

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

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The European Commission 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 press release

Joint report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the United Kingdom's orderly withdrawal from the European Union. 

Statement by President Donald Tusk on the draft guidelines for the second phase of the Brexit negotiations

First, we should start negotiating the transition period, so that people and businesses have clarity about their situation. As you know, the UK has asked for a transition of about two years, while remaining part of the Single Market and Customs Union. And we will be ready to discuss this, but naturally, we have our conditions. I propose that during this period, the UK will respect:

  • the whole of EU law, including new law;
  • it will respect budgetary commitments;
  • it will respect judicial oversight;
  • and of course, all the related obligations.

Clearly, within the transition period following the UK's withdrawal, EU decision-making will continue among the 27 member states, without the UK.

All of what I have said seems to be the only reasonable solution, and it is in the interest of all our citizens that it is agreed as soon as possible. This is why I will ask the EU leaders to mandate our negotiator to start these talks immediately.

Second, we want to begin discussions with the UK in order to explore the British vision of its future relationship with the EU. So far, we have heard a number of various ideas. We need more clarity on how the UK sees our future relations, after it has left the Single Market and Customs Union. I therefore propose to mandate our negotiator to start exploratory talks with our British friends about this problem. On our side, we are ready to start preparing a close EU-UK partnership in trade, but also in the fight against terrorism and international crime as well as security, defence and foreign policy. For this to happen, the European Council will have to adopt additional guidelines next year. [...]

So much time has been devoted to the easier part of the task. And now, to negotiate a transition arrangement and the framework for our future relationship, we have de facto less than a year. [...]

Full statement

Remarks by President Juncker at the joint press conference with Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

[...]We discussed the Joint Report agreed by the two negotiators. Prime Minister May has assured me that it has the backing of the UK Government. On that basis, I believe we have now made the breakthrough we needed. [...]

The decision on sufficient progress will be in the hands of the 27 Heads of State or Government. I am hopeful, sure, confident – sure – that they will share our appraisal and allow us to move on to the next phase of the negotiations. [...]

A few remarks on citizens' rights first. [...]

The Commission's negotiators have made sure that the choices made by EU citizens living in the UK will be protected. We have made sure that their rights will remain the same after the UK has left the European Union. This is in particular the case for: EU citizens' right to live, work and study; EU citizens' right to family reunification; the protection of the rights of EU citizens' children; and the right to healthcare, pensions and other social security benefits.

We have made sure that the administrative procedures will be cheap and will be simple. This is an issue to which the Commission will pay particular attention when drafting the withdrawal agreement.

The same goes for UK citizens living in the EU27.

On the settling of accounts, the Prime Minister said in her remarkable Florence speech that the United Kingdom would honour its commitments, including beyond 2020. This was a detailed, line-by-line process but she has been as good as her word. She was negotiating in a gentlemanly manner, and I am very grateful, Prime Minister, for that.

On Ireland, the EU has consistently supported the goal of peace and reconciliation enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement. The European Union has made it a priority to protect the peace process on the island. I have been in regular contact with the Taoiseach over the last days, including last night and including the last negotiations we had in the course of yesterday with our Irish friends. The UK has made significant commitments on the avoidance of a hard border after its withdrawal from the European Union.

All of the EU27 stand firmly behind Ireland and behind the peace process.

Let me be clear: we still have a lot of work to do.

The Joint Report is not the withdrawal agreement. That agreement still needs to be drafted by the negotiators on the basis we have agreed yesterday and today, and then approved by the Council and ratified by the UK Parliament and the European Parliament. [...]

Full remarks

Remarks by Michel Barnier, the European Commission's Chief Negotiator, at the press conference on the Joint Report from the Negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government

Today, after six months of work, we have published a joint report which lists our points of agreement so far.

  • This document is detailed and precise.
  • I have always said that we wanted to be fully transparent to citizens and taxpayers. We need to be accountable, at every stage of the negotiations.
  • If the European Council agrees, and following the European Parliament's resolution next week, this document could be the basis for the Withdrawal Agreement.

Let me be clear: there is still work to be done and negotiations on a number of issues, such as the governance of our agreement and Euratom. There are more hurdles to take.

We will need to have the final version of the Withdrawal Agreement ready by October 2018. Less than one year.

[...] based on our agreement, his recommendation, my recommendation, and the recommendation of the College of Commissioners is that the progress achieved today is sufficient to move to the next phase.

It is now up to the European Council to decide whether this constitutes sufficient progress, and to move the talks to the next stage. [...]

Et d'abord les droits des citoyens qui ont été depuis le début et qui resteront notre priorité.

4,5 millions de citoyens européens ont décidé de vivre dans un autre Etat membre de l'Union que le leur, sur la base du droit de l'Union qui permet la libre circulation des personnes.

Notre rapport conjoint préserve ces droits et pose pour les préserver plusieurs principes:

  • Premier principe : une application réciproque pour les citoyens de l'UE au Royaume-Uni et pour les Britanniques dans l'UE.
  • Deuxième principe : aucune discrimination basée sur la nationalité.
  • Troisième principe : une date d'échéance ("cut-off date") fixée à la date du retrait britannique, même si elle pourrait être adaptée dans le contexte d'une possible période de transition.

Au-delà des principes, ce texte comprend des garanties concrètes pour les citoyens des deux côtés de la Manche. Et je voudrais appeler votre attention sur six points :

  1. Tous les citoyens arrivés au Royaume-Uni ou dans l'Union avant le retrait britannique pourront continuer à résider, à travailler, à étudier comme aujourd'hui. Deux exemples :
  • Des infirmières ou des médecins en fonction avant le Brexit pourront continuer à travailler et leurs qualifications professionnelles resteront reconnues.
  • Une étudiante britannique dans un des pays de l'UE ne subira pas les effets du Brexit : elle pourra continuer ses études, payer les mêmes droits d'inscription que les citoyens du pays où elle étudie et même travailler dans ce pays après ses études. Cela vaudra évidemment pour tous les étudiants européens au Royaume-Uni.
  1. Les membres de la famille, comme les époux, les enfants, les parents, les grands-parents, conserveront leur droit à rejoindre leur proche dans le futur, s'ils ne vivent pas au Royaume-Uni aujourd'hui.
  • Tous les enfants auront ce droit, même s'ils naissent après le retrait du Royaume-Uni.
  • Et, naturellement, les membres de la famille d'un Britannique qui vit dans l'UE pourront le rejoindre également.
  1. Les citoyens garderont leur droit aux soins de santé, à la retraite et aux autres prestations de sécurité sociale.
  • Ils pourront recevoir ces prestations même après le Brexit s'ils décident de vivre dans un autre pays de l'UE ou au Royaume-Uni.
  • Cette "exportabilité" inclura toutes les prestations familiales.
  1. Le Royaume-Uni créera une procédure pour obtenir ce qu'il appelle le "UK special status". Nous devons continuer à en discuter les détails, et je sais la vigilance justifiée du Parlement européen, qui est aussi la mienne, sur ce point. Mais il est déjà clair dans notre rapport conjoint que :
  • Ce système devra être simple d'utilisation, avec les garanties appropriées pour les citoyens qui verraient leur demande rejetée.
  • Les coûts ne devront pas excéder ceux qui sont imposés aux citoyens britanniques pour la délivrance de documents similaires – on me dit que c'est autour de 70 livres.
  • Et enfin un citoyen européen qui est déjà résident permanent au Royaume-Uni obtiendra le "special status" gratuitement.
  • Ces détails qui sont importants pour les citoyens, nous allons les mettre dans le texte de l'accord de retrait lui-même, après les avoir précisés dans les mois qui viennent.
  1. Les droits des citoyens seront garantis par des mécanismes efficaces, ce qui implique aussi une interprétation cohérente de ces droits. Ces principes, qui sont dans notre rapport conjoint, seront précisés et consolidés dans le Traité de retrait lui-même.
  • L'accord de retrait sera incorporé dans le droit britannique. Les justiciables pourront en invoquer les dispositions devant les autorités et les tribunaux britanniques directement.
  • Ce sont les juges britanniques qui diront le droit au Royaume-Uni.
  • Dans leurs jugements, les tribunaux britanniques devront tenir compte de la jurisprudence que la Cour de justice de l'Union européenne rendra après le Brexit.
  • Ils pourront aussi poser – c'est une faculté – une question préjudicielle sur l'interprétation de l'accord de retrait à la Cour de justice pendant une durée de 8 années, ce qui nous paraît un temps réaliste pour construire la jurisprudence dont les citoyens ont besoin quand elle n'existe pas encore.
  • Dans le cas de tels recours préjudiciels volontaires de la part des juges britanniques, évidemment, l'arrêt de la Cour aura le même effet contraignant qu'aujourd'hui sur les tribunaux britanniques.
  • Tout cela reflète naturellement les mécanismes de mise en œuvre disponibles pour les citoyens britanniques dans chaque pays de l'UE.
  1. Le Royaume-Uni créera une nouvelle autorité indépendante pour assurer la bonne application de l'accord de retrait et aider directement les citoyens. Cette instance doit avoir à nos yeux, la Commission l'a rappelé dans la communication qui accompagne ce rapport conjoint et nous y veillerons dans la rédaction du futur traité, un rôle similaire à celui de la Commission européenne pour protéger les droits des Britanniques qui vivent dans l'UE.

Secondly, Ireland

Ireland is in a unique situation, as Prime Minister Theresa May underlined this morning.

The UK and the EU both recognise that Brexit creates a unique challenge on the island of Ireland.

The UK has committed itself to proposing a solution.

We both remain determined to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The UK's commitment today gives us an effective guarantee to avoid such a hard border.

Unless another solution is found, the UK firmly agreed that Northern Ireland will maintain full alignment with EU internal market and Customs Union rules which support North-South cooperation, the all-island economy, and the protection of the Good Friday Agreement.

The Good Friday Agreement in all its dimensions and North-South cooperation under that Agreement will be protected.

Residents of Northern Ireland who are Irish citizens will continue to enjoy their rights as EU citizens.

The UK has also given the necessary assurances to allow for the continuation of the Common Travel Area. [...]

In any case, any solution will need to respect the integrity of the Single Market and the Customs Union – which are at the core of our Union.

Troisièmement, le règlement financier

Nous nous sommes mis d'accord sur une méthodologie qui repose sur trois principes :

  • Aucun Etat membre n'aura à payer davantage ou à recevoir moins à cause du Brexit. Theresa May l'avait dit dans son discours à Florence. Nous le confirmons.
  • Le Royaume-Uni honorera tous les engagements pris durant son membership. Theresa May l'avait également dit dans son discours à Florence. Nous le précisons.
  • Concernant ses obligations, le Royaume-Uni ne paiera ni plus, ni plus tôt que s'il était un Etat membre.

Sur cette base, nous nous sommes mis d'accord :

  • D'abord, sur la liste les composantes du règlement financier ;
  • Ensuite, sur les principes pour calculer la valeur et les paiements ;
  • Troisièmement, sur les conditions de la participation du Royaume-Uni aux programmes du cadre financier pluriannuel en cours 2014-2020, au-delà donc de la date du retrait ;
  • Et enfin nous nous sommes mis d'accord sur les arrangements relatifs à la Banque européenne d'investissement, la Banque centrale européenne, au Fonds européen de développement qui est notre outil de solidarité, en particulier avec l'Afrique, au Fonds pour l'Afrique et à la Facilité pour les réfugiés en Turquie.

Concernant le budget de l'Union de 2014 à 2020:

  • Le Royaume-Uni contribuera aux budgets annuels 2019 et 2020 de l'Union, comme s'il était resté un Etat membre.
  • Il s'engage aussi à financer sa part du reste à liquider et le passif, tels qu'ils seront calculés à la fin de 2020.
  • Le passif éventuel sera quant à lui calculé à la date de sortie du Royaume-Uni de l'Union.

Et donc, Mesdames et Messieurs, tous les engagements pris à 28 seront respectés et honorés à 28. [...]

Sur la base de cet état des lieux de la négociation et de la recommandation du Collège des Commissaires, que je remercie, le Conseil européen aura donc, sous la responsabilité de Donald Tusk,

  • à déterminer si le progrès sur ces trois sujets est suffisant comme nous le considérons nous-mêmes,
  • à décider, le 15 décembre, des conditions d'une période éventuelle de transition,
  • et enfin à fixer le cadre de la discussion sur la future relation. [...]

Full remarks (in English and French)

Prime Minister's commitments to Northern Ireland

[...]six key commitments to Northern Ireland, principles that have guided me in the negotiations with the EU.

These commitments are consistent with our steadfast support for the Belfast Agreement and its successors; the principles that underpin them; the institutions they establish; and, the rights and opportunities they guarantee for everyone. This Government will continue to govern in the interests of the whole community in Northern Ireland and uphold the Agreements that have underpinned the huge progress that has been made over the past two decades.

First, we will always uphold and support Northern Ireland’s status as an integral part of the United Kingdom, consistent with the principle of consent. The Government I lead will never be neutral when it comes to expressing our support for the Union.

Second, we will fully protect and maintain Northern Ireland’s position within the single market of the United Kingdom. This is by far the most important market for Northern Ireland’s goods and services and you will continue to have full and unfettered access to it.

Third, there will be no new borders within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In addition to no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, we will maintain the Common Travel Area throughout these islands.

Fourth, the whole of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, will leave the EU customs union and the EU single market. Nothing in the agreement I have reached alters that fundamental fact.

Fifth, we will uphold the commitments and safeguards set out in the Belfast Agreement regarding North-South Co-operation. This will continue to require cross-community support.

Sixth, the whole of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, will no longer be subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. [...]

Full policy paper

Statement on Brexit negotiations by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

[...]We have achieved all we set out to achieve in Phase One of these negotiations. We have the assurances and guarantees we need from the United Kingdom and support for them from the European Union.

I am satisfied that sufficient progress has now been made on the Irish issues. The parameters have been set and they are good. Now, we can move on to work out the detail of what has been agreed and to talk about transition phase, free trade and the new relationship between the EU and the UK. [...]

So, what's been achieved?

1. The Good Friday Agreement in all its parts is protected.

2. Everyone born in Northern Ireland will continue to have the right to Irish and therefore EU citizenship. So, a child born in Belfast or Derry today will have the right to study in Paris, buy property in Spain, work in Berlin or any other part of the European Union. All they have to do is exercise the right to Irish and therefore EU citizenship.

3. The Common Travel Area will continue allowing us to travel freely between Britain and Ireland.

4. British and Irish citizens will continue to have the freedom to live, work, study, access housing, healthcare, pensions and welfare in each other’s countries as though we are citizens of both.

5. The United Kingdom has committed to avoiding a hard border as an 'over-arching requirement' with which 'any future arrangements must be compatible'. There will be no physical infrastructure or related checks or control.

Three options have been set out as how this can be achieved. Our preferred option is a deep and comprehensive agreement between the EU and the UK in its entirety which will allow us to trade as we do now. However, that might not be possible. So there is a backstop arrangement in which Northern Ireland and perhaps all of the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with rules of the Internal Market and Customs Union which are relevant to the avoidance of a border, north-south co-operation and the all-island economy.

6. People and businesses in Northern Ireland are being given the additional assurance that the United Kingdom government will ensure that Northern Ireland business will continue to have unfettered access to the whole of UK and that no new barriers will develop between Northern Ireland and Great Britain unless the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly agree to it. Northern Ireland and Great Britain will not drift apart.

7. PEACE and INTERREG funding which is so valuable to our border communities will continue until 2021 and we will favourably examine continuing it beyond that.

8. The United Kingdom has committed to ensuring that in Northern Ireland there is no diminution of human rights, safeguards and equality of opportunity set out in European Law.

9. And finally, there will continue to be a distinct strand on Ireland in phase two of these negotiations. [...]

Full statement

Related reactions:

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TheCityUK responds to initial agreement between UK and EU

PwC chairman comments on Brexit progress

The Investment Association comments on the Brexit breakthrough

Institute of Economic Affairs: Progress in the Brexit talks, but destination remains uncertain

AFME welcomes progress in Brexit negotiations

ACCA comments on the latest Brexit developments

© European Commission

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