29 September 2017

Barnier says negotiations have been “constructive”, but sufficient progress not yet achieved

Speaking at the close of the fourth round of Brexit negotiations, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said, “We have had a constructive week, yes, but we are not yet there in terms of achieving sufficient progress. Further work is needed in coming weeks and coming months.” He acknowledged that Prime Minister Theresa May’s Florence speech last week had created a “new dynamic,” and welcomed  as “very important” the UK’s commitment to enshrine the citizens’ rights agreement in domestic law. But he said that “stumbling blocks” remained on the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), and on a clear definition of the past financial commitments that the UK intends to honour.

Speaking at the same conference, Brexit Secretary David Davis said, “Decisive steps forward had been made… After four rounds, when I look across the full range of issues to do with our withdrawal from the EU, I’m clear we have made considerable progress.” On the issue of citizens’ rights he said, “We have offered guaranteed rights of return for settled EU citizens in the UK  in return for rights for onward movement for UK nationals who currently live in the 27.” He also confirmed the citizens’ rights agreement would have “direct effect” in the UK.

Elsewhere, The Times reports that the EU expects Davis to make “concrete proposals” on Britain’s offer for the financial settlement and the role of the ECJ following the Conservative party conference next week. In return the EU is expected to move forward discussions on a transition. This trade-off is expected to be agreed at the European Council summit on 19 October.

Separately, May is expected to hold a private meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel this morning ahead of the digital summit in Tallinn, where she will make the case for negotiations to move onto trade and the future relationship. This comes after she yesterday called for a “bold, new security partnership” with the EU.

Open Europe’s Henry Newman has written for Brexit Central, arguing that the UK has “struck a sensible consensus [and] it’s time for Brussels to move the talks onto trade.” “The fact that the Government is now proposing a transition, provides a solution”, he writes. Henry also appeared on the Daily Politics, where he commented that, “I don’t think Europe is getting it… if you take a reasonable view of what the UK has proposed… its time to move on and talk about the future.”

Source: Guardian Politico Brexit Central Daily Politics

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May vows ‘unconditional’ support for European defence post-Brexit as she visits UK troops in Estonia

Theresa May has reaffirmed that Britain is “unconditionally committed” to maintaining security cooperation with the EU as the UK prepares for Brexit. During a joint visit to a military base in Estonia with Emmanuel Macron, the prime minister said new threats – from Russian aggression to illegal migration and cybersecurity – made security in the union increasingly vital.

“When a nation like Russia deliberately violates the rules-based international order that we have worked so hard to create, we must come together with our allies to defend that international system,” May told British troops based in northern Estonia.

May added: “The United Kingdom is unconditionally committed to maintaining Europe’s security and we will continue to offer aid and assistance to EU member states that are the victims of armed aggression, terrorism and natural or manmade disasters.”


Verhofstadt critical of May, but says a Brexit deal can be done

Speaking at the London School of Economics on Thursday, the lead Brexit negotiator for the European Parliament said Brexit was “negative” and a “waste of time and energy”, but said Britain’s withdrawal was also a failure on the part of the EU. He noted that one positive outcome from Brexit was a recent change in mood in the EU, and that now many EU citizens were in favour of reforming the EU rather than wanting to “destroy” it.

When asked whether a Brexit deal could be done, he said “That’s the assumption that I have and it is towards that that we work”, but added “And that a withdrawal agreement be done in March 2019 means that there has to be an agreement in fact in October or November because then the agreement will go to the European Parliament and we need four or five months”.

Regarding the future of the EU, Verhofstadt said the EU needed more reform, and advocated the creation of a euro zone “government” with a fiscal capacity, treasury and finance minister.


Merkel voices support for Macron's reform proposals

Ahead of yesterday’s EU summit in Estonia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared her support for Emmanuel Macron’s speech, lauding it as providing “a good momentum for [the EU’s] larger development”. “I am of the firm conviction that Europe must not just stand still”, she said, adding that she wanted to work towards a European renewal and “create the basis for a more successful Europe”. Her spokesperson further stated that there was “a maximum degree of consensus between Germany and France” on the issue.


Dehousse: sequencing of Brexit negotiations should be abandoned

Franklin Dehousse, the Belgian former judge of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), has published an article for the Egmont Institute arguing against the current sequencing of the Brexit negotiations, in which “sufficient progress” must be made on the conditions of the UK’s withdrawal before the two sides can begin discussing the future EU/UK partnership. He writes, “The sequencing is not a legal obligation”, but rather a “tactical choice of the EU”, and its “benefits are not obvious.” Having to finalize the withdrawal agreement first is, he says, “hardly an incentive to compromise… [it] limits the scope of trade-offs [and] makes the negotiations more difficult by disconnecting connected topics.” He writes, “The sequencing naturally weakens the UK government, which pleases some countries and institutions… Tactically this makes them feel stronger, yet strategically this satisfaction is quite misguided.”


87 percent of German companies prefer unity of single market over uninterrupted trade with UK

A new survey by the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry says that 87 percent of German companies are willing to accept damage to their trade with the UK in order to protect the single market. While ten percent are neutral on the issue, only three percent rank maintaining uninterrupted trade with the UK higher than the unity of the EU and its single market.


Carney: Bank of England cannot prevent possible hits to the economy when UK-EU relationship changes

Speaking at an event celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Bank of England’s (BoE) independence from government, BoE governor Mark Carney warned that the BoE “cannot prevent the weaker real income growth likely to accompany the transition to new trading arrangements with the EU”, but, “It can influence how this hit to incomes is distributed between job losses and price rises.” He continued, “The prosperity of the UK will reflect not just the final Brexit arrangements but also the government’s fiscal and structural policies.” Carney added, “The biggest determinants of the UK’s medium-term prosperity will be the country’s new relationship with the EU and the reforms it catalyses.”

Speaking at the same event, Prime Minister Theresa May said that after Brexit, “our task is to find a new framework that allows for a close economic partnership [with the EU]”, adding that “we start from an unprecedented position.”


Business and consumer confidence in the Eurozone reaches a 10-year high

According to the EC Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI), economic confidence grew by 1.1 points to 113.0 in both the euro area and the EU in September. This represents a 10-year high, crowning a trend started in autumn last year and nearing the pre-crisis peak. The data surpasses economists’ forecasts, which predicted the uptrend to stop at 112.0 this month, showing that businesses’ and consumers’ confidence has not been reduced by prospects of reduced ECB incentives next year. The surge, encouraged by recovery in the region, was particularly strong in industrial, retail and construction firms. Only financial services witnessed a counter-trend, slipping from 25.6 to 18.8. Italy and the Netherlands were the countries with the highest rises in the Eurozone.


Business and Trade Union leaders make joint intervention on EU Citizen’s rights

Yesterday, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) issued a joint statement urging the Government to guarantee the rights of EU Citizens after Brexit. Carolyn Fairbairn of the CBI and Frances O’Grady of the TUC said that the uncertainty now facing 4 million expatriate EU and UK citizens has become “intolerable”. Accusing the government of playing ‘human poker’, they said that “a clear guarantee of the right to remain” for citizens in Britain and the EU was needed within weeks – and that EU citizens must be allowed to stay regardless of the result of the rest of negotiations.


Aarti Shankar: Macron’s push for a deeply integrated EU will face difficulties ahead

In a blog for Open Europe, following French President Emmanuel Macron’s speech on his vision for Europe, Aarti Shankar argues that Macron’s proposals for harmonising tax policies and introducing an EU border police will be hard to sell to the members states. She continues, “While Macron may say he is willing to consider treaty change, the prospect of holding a referendum on a new EU treaty is unlikely to be unappealing in other member states such as Italy, Greece and Poland.” She concludes, “But Macron’s speech raises as many questions and obstacles as new initiatives. He should not be surprised when he comes up against opposition from other member states on many of these ambitious ideas.”

Open Europe’s Leopold Traugott was quoted in Linkiestia, explaining that Merkel’s ability to respond to Macron’s reform proposals is limited due to her current coalition negotiations with the German Free Democrats