Joint report on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU

Author (Corporate)
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Series Title
Series Details December 2017
Publication Date 08/12/2017
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Further information

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

As a follow on to the European Council held in Brussels on the 19 October 2017, the heads of state and government of the Member States of the European Union met in EU27 formation (EU Member States minus the United Kingdom) on the 20 October 2017. They adopted conclusions on the state of the Brexit negotiations.

To the disappointment of the United Kingdom government, the EU27 deemed that insufficient progress had been made on the EU's three priority aims (citizens’ rights, financial settlement and Northern Ireland) to allow for the second sequence of negotiations, including trade issues, to begin .

The issue would be examined again in December 2017 at the next European Council summit. However, internal preparatory discussions as to second sequence issues would begin between the EU27 and the EU Institutions.

It was announced on the 31 October 2017 in a jointly agreed statement by Michel Barnier, the European Commission's Chief Negotiator and David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union that a further shortened sequence of Article 50 negotiations would be held on the 9 and 10 November 2017.

The short sixth round of negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Commission took place between the 9 and 10 November 2017. They were led by David Davis, head of the Department for Exiting the European Union, and Michel Barnier, Chief Negotiator for the European Commission's Taskforce on Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom.

Little clear progress was reported by either side at the end of the negotiations. David Davis said 'this week has enabled us to consolidate the progress of earlier negotiating rounds and to draw out those areas where further political and technical discussion is required ... This is now about moving into the political discussions that will enable both of us to move forward together'.

Michel Barnier said 'Do not expect from us today, at this stage, announcements or decisions. ... The discussions over the past days – in between the two European Councils – are a moment of deepening, clarification and technical work.

He also indicated that the UK had two weeks left to make concessions if the Brexit negotiations were to advance to the next stage at the December 2017 European Council meeting. The concessions were seen to concern, in particular, the issues of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and the financial settlement.

Detailed negotiations took place behind the scenes and it was anticipated that a breakthrough would be announced at a meeting between European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May on the 4 December 2017. However, a last minute refusal by the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland to accept proposed concessions on the Irish border prevented an announcement to be made.

Arlene Foster, Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and First Minister of Northern Ireland said on the 4 December 2017 that 'We have been very clear. Northern Ireland must leave the EU on the same terms as the rest of the United Kingdom. We will not accept any form of regulatory divergence which separates Northern Ireland economically or politically from the rest of the United Kingdom. The economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom will not be compromised in any way'.

This led to further negotiations between all parties which led to a form of wording agreeable to all sides and the announcement made on the 8 December 2017.

Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar said on the 4 December 2017 that he was 'surprised and disappointed' with the lack of a deal on Brexit divorce issues. At a press conference held early on 8 December 2017 European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and United Kingdom Prime Theresa May announced that they had reached agreement in principle across the three areas under consideration in the first phase of negotiations for the UK to leave the EU:

+ protecting the rights of Union citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the Union
+ the framework for addressing the unique circumstances in Northern Ireland with its border with Ireland
+ the financial settlement

As a result the European Commission stated that it would recommend to the European Council (Article 50) to conclude that sufficient progress had been made in the first phase of the Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom. It was now for the European Council (Article 50) on 15 December 2017 to decide if sufficient progress had been made, allowing the negotiations to proceed to their second phase.

European Council President Donald Tusk said as a result of this announcement that he would immediately present the draft guidelines to the European Council, Brussels, 14-15 December 2017. The key negotiations of Phase 2 would cover:

+ Negotiating the transition phase
+ Clarifying what the UK meant by its vision of its future relationship with the EU. The EU wanted a close EU-UK partnership in trade, and also in the fight against terrorism and international crime as well as security, defence and foreign policy.

President Tusk highlighted that the most difficult challenges of the negotiations were still ahead.

Source Link https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/joint-report-on-progress-during-phase-1-of-negotiations-under-article-50-teu-on-the-uks-orderly-withdrawal-from-the-eu
Related Link(s)
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Euro|Topics: Debates, December 2017: Were the Brexit talks really a success? http://www.eurotopics.net/en/190863/were-the-brexit-talks-really-a-success
ECFR: Commentary, 11.12.17: Tories sleepwalk towards soft Brexit http://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_tories_sleepwalk_towards_soft_brexit
In Facts, 08.12.17: Hey Brexiters, please remind us: what’s the point of Brexit? https://infacts.org/hey-brexiters-please-remind-us-whats-point-brexit/
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Carnegie Europe: Strategic Europe, 11.12.17: Brexit: UK Defers the Hard Choices http://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/74972?lang=en
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