Brexit Diary: Michel Barnier’s significant comments today on a possible transition period

25th September 2017

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator for Brexit has today made some significant comments on the transtion period asked for (begged for) by Theresa May in her Florence speech.

You can watch him make the comments (with English translation) here.

The comments were as follows (emphasis added):

“Ladies and gentlemen,

“First of all, a word of thanks to the Estonian Presidency and to Matti Maasikas, and to the whole team in the Embassy, and to all the Ministers doing a tremendous job – in particular in my area – in a spirit of trust and reciprocity that I would like to commend.

“In her speech in Florence, Theresa May expressed a constructive spirit, which is also ours, as the Ministers unanimously confirmed today in the Council.

“What matters now – during this limited time, when every day we are getting closer to the 29 March 2019: the day the UK will become a third country, as was its wish and demand – is that the UK government translates Mrs. May’s statements into clear negotiating positions.

“And that we discuss in detail these positions around the negotiating table.
We are therefore at a moment of clarity, particularly regarding citizens’ rights and the financial settlement. And we need to advance on finding a unique solution for Ireland. On all of these subjects, and on a few others, this is the moment of clarity.

“Since Friday, the 27 Member States have reaffirmed their unity. This was once again confirmed in the discussions in the Council today.

“And this unity is shared also by the political groups I met this morning in the European Parliament– as I do almost every week.

“A word now on the new, key element raised in Theresa May’s speech: The United Kingdom requested for the first time a transition period for a limited amount of time beyond its withdrawal from the European Union and its institutions.

This is currently not part of my mandate, but I would like to insist on a few conditions that the European Council has already set out. Allow me to refer you to the European Council guidelines, which must be read regularly – as I often do.

“1. The Union also must decide if such a period is in its interest.

“2. Any transition must respect the legal and financial framework of the Single Market. To quote the European Council: “Should a time-limited prolongation of Union acquis be considered, this would require existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures to apply.” Those are the words of the European Council. I think that everybody should remember them.

“3. Finally, discussions on a transition – which will now take place since the UK has requested it –do not absolve us from the necessity of making “sufficient progress.” Progress on our three key issues remains more than ever necessary in order to build the trust needed to begin discussing our future relationship.

“A final point, which is also important, is that we do not mix up the discussion on liabilities and commitments from the past – which are the subjects that make up the orderly withdrawal – with a discussion on the future relationship.

“The fourth round of negotiations this week should allow us to advance on each of these key points and to get the clarity that is needed to make progress.”

There is nothing that new here, of course.  All these points are obvious if you have had regard to the EU’s approach to the Brexit negotiations.

But it is important to note that Barnier does not see the issue of transition as part of his current mandate, and that he emphasises that it is a matter for the EU to decide whether it would be in its own interest.

All because the UK is asking for a transition period does not mean the EU will grant it, and it is not up to Barnier anyway.

His quotation of the guidelines is crucial: that is the EU position on transition. The UK may not like it, but unless the European Council amends the guidelines then that is the only basis on which a withdrawal agreement can be done by the EU.

And the requirement of “sufficient progress” remains, and it remains unmet.

 

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Brexit round-up – James Chapman, Gina Miller, UK position, City of London, Scotland

10th August 2017

As I am taking a break from active tweeting (and am instead on Twitter just to promote my posts and so on), this is a round-up of interesting links and tweets on Brexit and similar stuff.

 

The debate on Brexit – James Chapman

The emergence of James Chapman as a Remainer at this latest stage of the Brexit debate is a bit like Euron Greyjoy coming along in the recent episodes of Game of Thrones.

Chapman’s fearless glee in taking on his opponents has certainly shaken things up a bit, whether or not you agree with him (I don’t fwiw).  His Twitter feed is here.

Why is his entry into the debate significant? Well:

This is a Reuters news report on some of Chapman’s contributions to the Brexit debate: “Stop EU exit ‘catastrophe’, says UK Brexit minister’s ex-chief of staff“.

 

Parliament and Article 50 – Gina Miller

Gina Miller has done more for the independence and supremacy of the UK parliament than any parliamentarian one can think of.  It was her (and others’) legal case that led the Supreme Court holding that it was for parliament and not the executive to make the Article 50 decision.

And now, this horrific story at The Guardian: “Gina Miller afraid to leave her home after threats of acid attacks

 

Brexit negotiations – UK position

Politico Europe has this: “Britain launches Brexit charm offensive:
London has become increasingly sensitive to suggestions the UK is underprepared for Brexit”

Great piece at Sky News on the upcoming politics of Brexit and the position papers, by Beth Rigby: “Real battles for PM around the corner

Financial Times: “Theresa May’s cabinet split three ways over Brexit transition

 

Brexit issues – City of London

Financial Times:A stark warning on the cost of Brexit indecision: The financial sector will soon have to act on a worst-case scenario

 

Brexit issues – Scotland

An interesting development – more of that charm offensive, perhaps:

And finally…

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Brexit round-up – referendum promises, EU position, UK position, Ireland, single market, Brexit bill, ECJ

9th August 2017

As I am taking a break from active tweeting (and am instead just promoting my posts and so on), this is a round-up of interesting links on Brexit and similar stuff.

 

Brexit referendum – campaign

Interesting, from criminal solicitor-advocate Nicholas Diable:

 

Brexit negotiations – EU position

Martin Selmayr is, of course, chief of staff to the President of the European Commission.  He is currently making a point of tweeting a lot about Brexit and consumer standards and data protection:

The data protection point is also addressed by Chris Grey in this informative post.:

 

Brexit negotiations – UK position

The UK government is to release Brexit position papers in the next few weeks, according to The Guardian:

Simon Fraser, the former senior official at the Foreign Office has described the UK of being “a bit absent” in talks that “have not begun well” – news item.

Nick Macpherson, the former senior Treasury official is similarly unimpressed but hopes something better will come along:

An excellent thread by @jonnymorris1973 on UK’s lack of preparation for Brexit, and why this should alarm Brexiters more than anyone – click on this tweet to read full thread:

Wolfgang Munchau at the Financial Times wisely explains how Article 49 (on joining the EU) may become more important that Article 50.

 

Exit issues – Ireland

An outstanding piece by Finatn O’Toole on how the Republic of Ireland is deftly taking advantage of UK’s ineptness in the Brexit negotiations:

 

Exit issues – Brexit bill and financial issues

Ian Dunt at The Guardian on how the UK should be realistic on the Brexit bill:

A perhaps significant leader at The Sun on the UK settling its bill in return for free trade deal.

Article by Labour MP Chuka Umunna at the New Statesman: “It’s official – there’s a £200m hole in the Brexit bus NHS promise”

Editorial at the Evening Standard on the financial side not being the real problem:

 

Exit issues – single market

This is a fascinating piece by Matthew Holehouse on whether Article 127 of EEA is still in play, making it easier for the UK to stay in the single market:

 

Exit issues – jurisdiction of European Court of Justice and related legal issues

A well-reasoned leader at The Times on the EFTA court as a work-around.

The BBC reports that “UK judges need clarity after Brexit” according to the president of the Supreme Court Lord Neuberger.

that report prompted this great thread by George Peretz QC on UK courts and ECJ jurisprudence, post-Brexit – the first tweet in thread is here, click on it for the rest:

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Comments are pre-moderated and will not be published if they are not interesting or informative (preferably both).