Tag Archives: WA

EU stands behind Barnier

Brussels 15.10.2020 “…The European Council invites the Unionʼs chief negotiator (Michel Barnier) to continue negotiations in the coming weeks, and calls on the UK to make the necessary moves to make an agreement possible” the text of European Council conclusions on EU-UK relations reads.

The EU Council president Charles Michel expressed the leaders concern by lack of progress in the EU-UK talks.

The European Council reaffirmed the Union’s determination to have “as close as possible” a partnership with the United Kingdom on the basis of the negotiating directives of 25 February 2020, while respecting the previously agreed European Council guidelines, as well as statements and declarations, notably those of 25 November 2018, in particular as regards the level playing field, governance and fisheries, according to the Council conclusions.

EU-UK: ready for “all outcomes”

Brussels 15.10.2020 The EU leaders agreed to continue the “difficult” talks with the UK, shaping new trade agreement with the former member of the bloc, however they also have underlined that it is necessary to be ready to “all outcomes”, including no-deal scenario. Image above (archive).

“We will have the opportunity, also this afternoon, to tackle the future relationship with the UK. We want an agreement, but we also want to protect the level playing field. It’s a question of fairness, it’s a question of jobs, it’s also the question of the integrity of the single market. We are ready to continue to negotiate with the UK. This is a difficult negotiation, we all know that. And we will have the opportunity to have an exchange of views with all the European leaders” Charles Michel (pictured), the EU Council president said, while entering the meeting.

#EUCO: Mid-October Council agenda

EU leaders will meet in Brussels on 15-16 October to discuss the whole range of issues, including the epidemiological situation, relations with the United Kingdom, as well as climate change and relations with Africa, namely the post-Cotonou agreement.

COVID-19
The European Council will look at the current epidemiological situation. Leaders will also discuss overall coordination and the work on the development and distribution of a vaccine at the EU level.

EU-UK relations
The European Council will take stock of the implementation of the withdrawal agreement and review the state of the negotiations on the future EU-UK partnership. Leaders will discuss preparatory work for all scenarios after 1 January 2021. EU-UK negotiations on the future partnership.

Climate change
EU leaders will look at the progress made towards delivering the EU’s objective of climate neutrality by 2050. Following the adoption by the Commission of a 2030 Climate Target Plan, the EU leaders will hold an orientation debate on climate change-related issues.

The European Council will also discuss EU-Africa relations and may address other foreign policy issues, depending on developments, and the Cotonou agreement, which is the overarching framework for EU relations with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. It covers the EU’s relations with 79 countries, including 48 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Lord Frost: UK-EU differences remain

Brussels 2.10.2020 Lord David Frost, UK Chief Negotiator Lord David Frost issued the following statement, while concluding this week’s negotiating Round with the EU.

“We have just completed the ninth Round of our negotiations with the EU about our future relationship.
“These were constructive discussions conducted in a good spirit.
“In many areas of our talks, although differences remain, the outlines of an agreement are visible. This is true of most of the core areas of a trade and economic agreement – notably trade in goods and services, transport, energy, social security, and participation in EU programmes. This has however been true for some time.
“I am also encouraged that progress has been possible on a law enforcement agreement and that there has been convergence on the structure of the overall partnership.
“In other areas familiar differences remain. On the level playing field, including subsidy policy, we continue to seek an agreement that ensures our ability to set our own laws in the UK without constraints that go beyond those appropriate to a free trade agreement. There has been some limited progress here but the EU need to move further before an understanding can be reached. On fisheries the gap between us is unfortunately very large and, without further realism and flexibility from the EU, risks being impossible to bridge. These issues are fundamental to our future status as an independent country.
“I am concerned that there is very little time now to resolve these issues ahead of the European Council on 15 October.
“For our part, we continue to be fully committed to working hard to find solutions, if they are there to be found.”

Brexit: EU intensifies negotiations

The post-Brexit trade talks remained deadlocked on key areas, as London urged Brussels to give ground to avoid a damaging “no-deal” at the end of the year. They have pinpointed a European summit to October 15 as the latest agreement could be reached for it to be ratified in time for it take effect at the end of the year.

However the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart David Frost complained of a continued gulf between the two sides in crucial areas such as competition rules and fishing rights.

After the ninth round of talks in the difficult process broke up in Brussels, with renewed commitments to find a way out of the impasse, there was clear acknowledgement the deadline approaches.

“To reach an agreement, these divergences must necessarily be overcome over the next weeks,” said Barnier.

Despite indicating there were signs of agreement in a number of areas, Frost warned disagreements over competition rules and fishing may be “impossible” to overcome without the EU giving ground.

“I am concerned that there is very little time now to resolve these issues ahead of the European Council on October 15,” he said.

Next steps may be determined on October 3 in a video conference between European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Prime Minister Johnson said it was up to Brussels to agree to terms to unblock a deal.

“It’s all there, it’s just up to them,” he told the BBC, urging the EU to bow to common sense.

UK and EU officials have underlined the two leaders would take stock of progress made in the latest round of talks even as the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen warned against a deal “at any price”.

“This is so difficult, but overall where there is a will there is a way. I think we should intensify the negotiations,” the EU top executive told press after meeting leaders of the 27-member bloc.

EU-UK first lawsuit in view

Brussels 1.10.2020 Today the European Commission has sent to the United Kingdom a letter of formal notice for breaching its obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement. This marks the beginning of a formal infringement process against the United Kingdom. It has one month to reply to today’s letter.

Article 5 of the Withdrawal Agreement states that the European Union and the United Kingdom must take all appropriate measures to ensure the fulfilment of the obligations arising from the Withdrawal Agreement, and that they must refrain from any measures which could jeopardise the attainment of those objectives. Both parties are bound by the obligation to cooperate in good faith in carrying out the tasks stemming from the Withdrawal Agreement.

On 9 September 2020, the UK government tabled a Bill (‘United Kingdom Internal Market Bill’) that, if adopted, would flagrantly violate the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland, as it would allow the UK authorities to disregard the legal effect of the Protocol’s substantive provisions under the Withdrawal Agreement. Representatives of the UK government have acknowledged this violation, stating that its purpose was to allow it to depart in a permanent way from the obligations stemming from the Protocol. The UK government has failed to withdraw the contentious parts of the Bill, despite requests by the European Union.

By doing so, the UK has breached its obligation to act in good faith, as set out in Article 5 of the Withdrawal Agreement. Furthermore, it has launched a process, which – if the Bill is adopted – would impede the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement. As a result, the Commission has launched infringement proceedings today in line with the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement.

The UK has until the end of this month to submit its observations to the letter of formal notice. After examining these observations, or if no observations have been submitted, the Commission may, if appropriate, decide to issue a Reasoned Opinion.

The Withdrawal Agreement was ratified by both the EU and the UK. It entered into force on 1 February 2020 and has legal effects under international law.

Following the publication by the UK government of the draft ‘United Kingdom Internal Market Bill’ on 9 September 2020, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič called for an extraordinary meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee to request the UK government to elaborate on its intentions and to respond to the EU’s serious concerns. The meeting took place in London on 10 September between Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič.

At the meeting, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič stated that if the Bill were to be adopted, it would constitute an extremely serious violation of the Withdrawal Agreement and of international law. He called on the UK government to withdraw these measures from the draft Bill in the shortest time possible and in any case by the end of the month of September.

At the third ordinary meeting of the Joint Committee on 28 September 2020, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič again called on the UK government to withdraw the contentious measures from the bill. The UK government on this occasion confirmed its intention to go ahead with the draft legislation.

The Withdrawal Agreement provides that during the transition period, the Court of Justice of the European Union has jurisdiction and the Commission has the powers conferred upon it by Union law in relation to the United Kingdom, also as regards the interpretation and application of that Agreement.

EU “firm” on respecting Brexit deal

Brussels 21.09.2020 According to an EU official the president of the EU Council Charles Michel met with top EU-UK negotiator Michel Barnier today to discuss a number of issues concerning the ongoing talks with the United Kingdom on the comprehensive trade agreement. The central focus has been the state of play of the negotiations, especially regarding the intention of the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to re-write the Withdrawal Agreement unilaterally.

PM Johnson defends his plan to unilaterally rewrite Britain’s Brexit deal with the European Union as an insurance policy against the bloc’s unreasonable behaviour — even as his former attorney general joined the ranks of once-loyal lawmakers refusing the contentious move.
Regarding the situation the EU official said that the position of the bloc remains “firm and steady” towards the need to fully implement the Withdrawal Agreement. The EU will not be “intimidated nor impressed”, but still the breaking of the international agreement remains “extremely worrying”.
Meanwhile Michel Barnier is also to preparing the briefing for the heads of states and governments of the EU member-states at special European Council on September 24-25, reporting on analysis of the situation.
At present the EU is looking for an agreement on our future relation, but that requires substantial progress on key issues as level playing field and fisheries, the EU official has underlined.

#SoTEU: Leyen WARNS UK

The UK has no legal power to unilaterally set aside the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement signed by Boris Johnson, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has warned in her State of Union #SOTEU speech on September 16. In the traditional annual address of the president of the European Commission to the European Parliament. The president said both sides had agreed it was the only way to guarantee the Northern Ireland peace process. In her speech she insisted that the trust would be undermined if the UK started reverse its international Treaty obligations.
Ursula von der Leyen addressed issue of the Withdrawal Agreement, which was concluded as a direct result of Brexit.

“We need new beginnings with old friends – on both of sides of the Atlantic and on both sides of the Channel. The scenes in this very room when we held hands and said goodbye with Auld Lang Syne spoke a thousand words. They showed an affection for the British people that will never fade. But with every day that passes the chances of a timely agreement do start to fade. Negotiations are always difficult. We are used to that.
And the Commission has the best and most experienced negotiator, Michel Barnier, to navigate us through.
But talks have not progressed as we would have wished. And that leaves us very little time.

As ever, this House will be the first to know and will have the last say. And I can assure you we will continue to update you throughout, just as we did with the Withdrawal Agreement.That agreement took three years to negotiate and we worked relentlessly on it. Line by line, word by word. And together we succeeded. The result guarantees our citizens’ rights, financial interests, the integrity of the Single Market – and crucially the Good Friday Agreement.

“The EU and the UK jointly agreed it was the best and only way for ensuring peace on the island of Ireland.
And we will never backtrack on that. This agreement has been ratified by this House and the House of Commons.
It cannot be unilaterally changed, disregarded or dis-applied. This a matter of law, trust and good faith.
And that is not just me saying it – I remind you of the words of Margaret Thatcher: “Britain does not break Treaties. It would be bad for Britain, bad for relations with the rest of the world, and bad for any future Treaty on trade”. This was true then, and it is true today.
Trust is the foundation of any strong partnership” von der Leyen said.

Boris Johnson has urged MPs to support a bill which modifies the Brexit deal he signed with the EU in January. While the British Prime Minister said the Internal Markets Bill would “ensure the integrity of the UK internal market” and hand power to Scotland and Wales, and it would protect the Northern Ireland peace process. Critics insist that the move will damage the UK’s international standing after a minister admitted the plans break international law.

MEPs «disappointed» by Internal Market Bill

The UKCG and the EP political group leaders issued the following statement after meeting with Chief EU Negotiator Michel Barnier and Joint Committee Co-Chair Maroš Šefčovič, on Friday, September 11,202O.

“The European Parliament’s UK Coordination Group (UKCG) met today to assess the impact of the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill on the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement with EU-UK Joint Committee Co-Chair Maroš Šefčovič and to evaluate the ongoing negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship with EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier.

“EP political group leaders and UKCG members are deeply concerned and disappointed that the UK Government published an Internal Market Bill that clearly represents a serious and unacceptable breach of international law. It violates the Withdrawal Agreement that was signed and ratified by the current UK Government and Parliament less than a year ago. The Internal Market Bill gravely damages the trust and credibility that the European Parliament has already said is “an essential element of any negotiation”, thus putting at risk the ongoing negotiations on the future relationship.

“The European Parliament supports EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič in asking the UK government to withdraw these measures from the bill immediately; by the end of September, at the very latest. The European Parliament’s UK Coordination Group stresses that:

“the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, has legally binding force regardless of whether or not the EU and the UK conclude any new treaty governing their future relationship; and

any issue regarding the implementation of its provisions should be addressed by the Joint Committee and in no case unilaterally by any party to the agreement.
The European Parliament expects the UK government to uphold the rule of law and demands nothing less than the full implementation of all provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, which is essential to protect the Good Friday Agreement and peace and stability on the island of Ireland.

Should the UK authorities breach – or threaten to breach – the Withdrawal Agreement, through the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill in its current form or in any other way, the European Parliament will, under no circumstances, ratify any agreement between the EU and the UK.

Regarding the outcome of the eighth negotiating round, the European Parliament remains committed to an ambitious partnership with the UK. We are disappointed with the continued lack of reciprocal engagement from the UK side on fundamental EU principles and interests.

The European Parliament calls on the UK to work with the EU constructively and find compromises that are in the interests of our citizens and companies on both sides. Any potential deal should not only preserve our interests, but also respect the integrity of the European Union and its single market.

For any deal to take effect, democratic oversight institutions on both sides of the Channel must be able to carry out a meaningful assessment, as stated in the Withdrawal Agreement. The European Parliament recalls that its consent to any deal will only be granted after detailed scrutiny of the legal provisions. The European Parliament will not accept having its democratic oversight curbed by a last-minute deal beyond the end of October.”

Signed by EP group leaders:

Manfred WEBER (EPP, DE)

Iratxe GARCÍA PEREZ (S&D, ES)

Dacian CIOLOŞ (Renew, RO)

Philippe LAMBERTS (Greens/EFA, BE) co-chair

Ska KELLER (Greens/EFA, DE) co-chair

Raffaele FITTO (ECR, IT) co-chair

Ryszard LEGUTKO (ECR, PL) co-chair

Martin SCHIRDEWAN (GUE, DE) co-chair

Manon AUBRY (GUE, FR) co-chair

and by the UK Coordination Group:

David McALLISTER (EPP, DE), chair

Bernd LANGE (S&D, DE)

Nathalie LOISEAU (Renew, FR)

Christophe HANSEN (EPP, LU)

Kati PIRI (S&D, NL)

Kris PEETERS (EPP, BE)

Pedro SILVA PEREIRA (S&D, PT)

Morten PETERSEN (Renew, DK)

Gunnar BECK (ID, DE)

EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement in jeopardy

Following the publication by the UK government of the draft “United Kingdom Internal Market Bill” on 9 September 2020, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič called for an extraordinary meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee to request the UK government to elaborate on its intentions and to respond to the EU’s serious concerns. A meeting took place today in London between Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

The Vice-President stated, in no uncertain terms, that the timely and full implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland – which Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government agreed to, and which the UK Houses of Parliament ratified, less than a year ago – is a legal obligation. The European Union expects the letter and spirit of this Agreement to be fully respected. Violating the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement would break international law, undermine trust and put at risk the ongoing future relationship negotiations.

The Withdrawal Agreement entered into force on 1 February 2020 and has legal effects under international law. Since that point in time, neither the EU nor the UK can unilaterally change, clarify, amend, interpret, disregard or disapply the agreement. The Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland is an essential part of the Withdrawal Agreement. Its aim is to protect peace and stability on the island of Ireland and was the result of long, detailed and difficult negotiations between the EU and the UK.

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič stated that if the Bill were to be adopted, it would constitute an extremely serious violation of the Withdrawal Agreement and of international law.

If adopted as proposed, the draft bill would be in clear breach of substantive provisions of the Protocol: Article 5 (3) & (4) and Article 10 on custom legislation and State aid, including amongst other things, the direct effect of the Withdrawal Agreement (Article 4). In addition, the UK government would be in violation of the good faith obligation under the Withdrawal Agreement (Article 5) as the draft Bill jeopardises the attainment of the objectives of the Agreement.

The EU does not accept the argument that the aim of the draft Bill is to protect the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement. In fact, it is of the view that it does the opposite.

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič called on the UK government to withdraw these measures from the draft Bill in the shortest time possible and in any case by the end of the month. He stated that by putting forward this Bill, the UK has seriously damaged trust between the EU and the UK. It is now up to the UK government to re-establish that trust.

He reminded the UK government that the Withdrawal Agreement contains a number of mechanisms and legal remedies to address violations of the legal obligations contained in the text – which the European Union will not be shy in using.

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