[Brexit Negotiations]: Programme: EU-UK Article 50 negotiations, 26-27 February 2018 / 5-7 March 2018 / 13-15 March 2018

Author (Corporate)
Series Title
Series Details 23.02.18
Publication Date 15/03/2018
Content Type

Brexit Negotiations

+ 29 March 2017: The UK triggered Article 50, the process for the start of the negotiations for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.
+ 19 June 2017: 1st Round
+ 17-20 July 2017: 2nd Round
+ 28-31 August 2017: 3rd Round
+ 25-28 September 2017: 4th Round
+ 9-12 October 2017: 5th Round
+ 19-20 October 2017: European Council
+ 9-10 November 2017: 6th Round
+ 8 December 2017: Meeting between Jean-Claude Juncker and Theresa May. Joint report on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU
+ 15 December 2017: European Council (Art.50)
+ 29 January 2018: General Affairs Council (Art. 50)
+ 6-9 February 2018: EU-UK Article 50 Negotiations
+ 26-27 February + 5 March 2018 + 13-15 March 2018: EU-UK Article 50 Negotiations

During the first phase of negotiations (concluded in December 2017) there were three negotiating groups covering the key issues of:

+ citizens’ rights
+ financial settlement
+ other separation issues (such such as Euratom, EU external agreements and dispute resolution).

The issues related to Northern Ireland and the governance of the withdrawal agreement were addressed by the Coordinators.

Note that negotiations at the level of officials took place in addition to the formal milestone negotiations listed above.

Following the European Council held in Brussels on the 14-15 December 2017 the EU27 grouping (the EU Member States minus the United Kingdom) held a separate European Council (Art.50) on the 15 December 2017.

The EU27 reviewed the latest developments in the Brexit negotiations.

EU27 leaders agreed that sufficient progress has been achieved in the first phase of the Brexit negotiations.

On this basis, they adopted the draft guidelines to move to the second phase of negotiations where they would also start discussions on:

+ a transition period
+ the framework for the future relationship

The European Commission sent on the 20 December 2017 a Recommendation to the Council (Art 50) to begin discussions on the next phase of the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

The Council of the European Union (EU27) adopted on the 29 January 2018 its negotiating directives relating to the second phase of Brexit talks.

On the 7 February 2018 the European Commission published a Position Paper called Transitional Arrangements in the
Withdrawal Agreement
. This translated into legal terms the principles laid down in the European Council Guidelines of 29 April 2017 and 15 December 2017 and in the supplementary negotiating directives annexed to the Council Decision of 29 January 2018.

The UK sent a formal response to the European Commission's Position Paper on the 20 February 2018 ('Implementation Period Update').

A further series of EU-UK Article 50 Negotiations took place between officials in Brussels, 6-9 February 2018, preceded on the 5 February 2018 by a working meeting in London between Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator and Brexit secretary, David Davis.

Technical discussions covered:

+ Withdrawal issues (Governance)
+ Ireland/Northern Ireland
+ Implementation

On the 9 February 2018 there was a meeting at the more senior Coordinators’ level covering:

+ Wrap-up
+ UK update on the future relationship.

During the same week the UK Prime Minister Theresa May held meetings of senior Cabinet Ministers within the Brexit Sub-Committee on the 7 and 8 February 2018 to attempt to try and agree on a UK proposal for of a final deal with the EU that could keep a divided Conservative Party together. News sources quoted on the 5 February 2018 said that a Downing Street spokesman had made clear that the UK would leave the EU customs union after Brexit. However, commentators noted that this might not preclude an agreement on some form of special customs arrangements.

Michel Barnier said in London on the 5 February 2018 in this context: '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'.

On the 9 February 2018 Michel Barnier gave a downbeat assessment of the state of the negotiations. In particular, in connection with the issue of preventing a return to a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. There would be a need to maintain full regulatory alignment with the rules of the Single Market and the Customs Union – current or future – which supported North-South cooperation, the all-island economy and the Good Friday Agreement. As a result, and because the UK had come up with no practical operational solutions, the European Commission would need to legally define how this scenario would work in operational terms.

Commentators saw this as an ultimatum from the European Commission forcing the UK Government to come down on the side of a continued participation in the EU Customs Union or to take the Brexiteers line and not accept any such continued participation and, potentially, no agreed transitional period deal.

Other continuing disagreements between the two sides involved:

+ the UK's refusal to guarantee permanent rights to EU nationals who came to live and work in the UK after March 2019 during the transition period
+ the rights of the UK to object to new EU rules and laws during the transition period ('implementation period')
+ whether the UK could continue to participate in new justice and home affairs policies during the transition period.

On the 28 February 2018 the European Commission issued a Position Paper to the EU27 called European Commission Draft Withdrawal Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community.

From a European Commission perspective this document translated into legal terms the Joint Report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government on the progress achieved during phase 1 of the negotiations, published on 8 December 2017, and proposed text for those outstanding withdrawal issues which were mentioned in, but not set out in detail, in the Joint Report. It also integrated the text on the transition period, based on the supplementary negotiating directives adopted by the Council (Article 50) on 29 January 2018.

The draft Withdrawal Agreement would be discussed with the EU27 Member States and and the European Parliament and, subsequently, for negotiation with the United Kingdom.

From a UK perspective the document created considerable controversy as regards, in particular, the issue of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Between 14 February and the 2 March 2018 the UK Prime Minister and a number of senior government ministers gave a series of Road to Brexit speeches. Their avowed objective was to outline aspects of the UK's aspirations post-Brexit and, in particular, to clarify the nature of the relationship sought between the EU and itself.

The climax to this series was a keynote speech by Theresa May at the Mansion House, London, 2 March 2018.A further series of EU-UK Article 50 Negotiations took place between officials in Brussels, 26-27 February 2018

These technical discussions covered Implementation and Governance of the Withdrawal Agreement issues.

These were followed up by further meetings 5-7 March 2018 covering the following issues:

+ Implementation
+ Other separation issues
+ Governance
+ Technical clarification to the Joint Report on the financial settlement
+ Citizen's rights
+ Ireland / Northern Ireland

A further set of negotiations took place on 13-15 March 2018 covering the same issues as above.

These led to the European Union and the UK announcing on the 19 March 2018 that progress had been reached on the negotiations and by the publication of a Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community. This draft text was intended to deal with the form of EU-UK relations during the implementation period from March 2019 until the end of 2020.

Source Link https://www.gov.uk/government/news/programme-eu-uk-article-50-negotiations--2
Related Link(s)
United Kingdom: Department for Exiting the European Union: Press Release, 02.03.18: Programme: EU-UK Article 50 Negotiations, Brussels, 5-7 March 2018 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/programme-eu-uk-article-50-negotiations-brussels-5-7-march-2018
LSE: Event, 05.03.18: The Brexit negotiations. The view from Brussels (Stefaan De Rynck, senior advisor of Michel Barnier, Chief EU Negotiator for Brexit) https://www.facebook.com/lseps/videos/10155803071298347/
ESO: In Focus: Brexit - The United Kingdom and the European Union http://www.europeansources.info/record/brexit-the-united-kingdom-and-the-european-union/
United Kingdom: Department for Exiting the European Union: Collection: Article 50 and negotiations with the EU https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/article-50-and-negotiations-with-the-eu
European Commission: Taskforce on Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom: Negotiating documents on Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom https://ec.europa.eu/commission/brexit-negotiations/negotiating-documents-article-50-negotiations-united-kingdom_en
European Commission: Task Force for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 TEU: Transitional Arrangements in the Withdrawal Agreement, February 2018 https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/transition.pdf
UK: Parliament: House of Commons: Library: Briefing Paper, No.8234 (23.02.18): Brexit: Council Directives for Negotiations on Transition https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8234

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