21 April 2017

UK must cover costs related to its withdrawal, says draft European Commission document

A leaked European Commission document on the upcoming Brexit withdrawal negotiations argues, “The UK should fully cover the specific costs related to the withdrawal process such as the relocation of the agencies or other Union bodies.” It also highlights that the UK’s financial obligations to the EU “should be defined in euro” rather than Sterling. On the issue of the Irish border, the document states, “Nothing in this Agreement should undermine the objectives and commitments set out in the Good Friday Agreement and its related implementing agreements; the unique circumstances and challenges on the island of Ireland will require flexible and imaginative solutions,” emphasising that negotiations should aim to avoid the creation of a hard border.

A separate leaked copy of the updated European Council Brexit guidelines states that guarantees to safeguard the status and rights of EU and UK citizens and their families will be the first priority for the negotiations. The document also says, “The EU stands ready to consider establishing partnerships in areas other than trade,” including the fight against terrorism and international crimes. “The withdrawal agreement should also include appropriate dispute settlement and enforcement mechanisms regarding the application and interpretation and withdrawal agreement.” The document states this should be achieved bearing in mind the role of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Separately, the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, will meet Prime Minister Theresa May on 26 April in London to discuss the Brexit process. This takes place ahead of the EU-27 summit on 29 April to adopt the European Council’s negotiating guidelines.

Source: Politico EurActiv Politico

Terrorist attack in Paris three days ahead of elections

One police officer was killed and two others wounded in a suspected terrorist attack last night on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. The attacker was later shot dead by police officers. French President François Hollande called the attack “terrorist in nature” and convened a meeting of the defence council this morning.

This comes three days ahead of the first round of French presidential elections this Sunday. Centre-right presidential candidate François Fillon and Front National leader Marine Le Pen have both ended their campaigning early as a mark of respect, and have called on other candidates to do the same. French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve this morning said, “Nothing must hamper this fundamental democratic moment.”

Open Europe’s Aarti Shankar appeared on France 24 yesterday to discuss the final presidential election debate.

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Labour rules out referendum on final Brexit deal

A spokesperson for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has ruled out offering a second referendum on the final Brexit deal, saying, “A second referendum is not our policy and it won’t be in our manifesto.” This comes after Corbyn refused to clarify his position on a referendum at his campaign launch, saying, “The European Union negotiations are going on and we set out our [red] lines on the negotiation. Primarily, it’s about getting and retaining tariff-free access to the European market.” Corbyn also said, “Walking away and trading under World Trade Organisation conditions will mean the manufacturing industry in this country would be severely damaged.”

Elsewhere, former UKIP MP Douglas Carswell has announced he will not be seeking re-election in the upcoming general election, and former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has also ruled out standing.

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Guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals in the UK is “a priority and a red line,” says European Parliament President

Following a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said, “[We must] strongly defend the right of EU citizens living in the UK and have a clear framework in the next months…For [the European Parliament], it is important to ensure that Brexit does not have negative effects on their life and rights they are enjoying…For us, it is a priority and it is a red line.” Tajani also commented, “To have a new government before the beginning of the negotiation is good, not only for the UK but for us, because we will have the same negotiators, the same prime minister and we will know the real situation in the UK…It is better for us to work with the same government and not with a potential election campaign [looming].”

Separately, speaking during an election visit to Enfield, May said, “We want to see sustainable net migration in this country. I believe that sustainable net migration is in the tens of thousands.” She added, “Leaving the European Union enables us to control our borders in relation to people coming from the EU, as well as those who are coming from outside.”

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France and the Netherlands submit formal bids to host the EU medicines agency after Brexit

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte yesterday submitted the Netherlands’ formal bid for Amsterdam to host the European Medicines Agency (EMA) after Brexit. Writing to European Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, he said, “The Netherlands will do everything in its power to facilitate a smooth and efficient transition from the UK to our country, in order to ensure full operational continuity.” Rutte also warned that “uncertainty about the move” was starting to affect the agency’s work, and urged the European Council to decide its new location “as swiftly as possible.” This comes after the French government made a formal bid on Wednesday for Lille to become the new home of the EMA post-Brexit.

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Schäuble: European integration is not realistic at the moment

German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, has said, “Given the current situation, it is not realistic to think that we can take further steps towards deepening European integration at the moment.” He added, “We need flexible speeds, variable groupings of countries, ‘coalitions of the willing’, whatever you want to call it in a particular situation.”

This comes as Finnish Finance Minister Petteri Orpo told Bloomberg, “There should be no slowdown in developing the EU because of Brexit. Quite the opposite, we should push even harder.” He added that the UK’s withdrawal “after 40 years of marriage, is inevitably going to be so painful that no one will want to feel it for themselves. I believe [Brexit] is going to be a precedent no one will want to follow.”

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EU foreign policy chief: Our British friends will lose more than what we lose from Brexit

Speaking during a visit to Beijing, the High Representative of the EU, Federica Mogherini said, “I think our British friends will lose more than what we lose” from Brexit, adding, “[The UK] will have to dismantle their belonging to a community. We will lose an important member state.” She went on to say, “The European Union, even after the UK will be out, will continue to be the first market in the world, the second largest economy in the world…I am seeing all our partners in these months telling us that the European Union is needed, and this is the message I also get from here in China that the European Union is an indispensable partner in the world today.”

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Argentina says EU could rethink Falkland Islands stance post-Brexit

Argentina’s foreign minister, Susana Malcorra, has said that Brexit could be an opportunity for the EU to ‘evaluate’ it’s stance on the Falkland Islands as “the European Union, through the EU agreements, is [currently] bonded very firmly and very strongly to the United Kingdom.” Under the EU’s 2009 Lisbon Treaty, the Falkland Islands are a British overseas territory to which some EU rules apply.

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