A few days ago, the European Commission’s draft negotiating directives for Brexit were made public. The top priority is to protect the rights of EU and UK citizens, in the UK and across the EU 27. For example, the European Commission wants to uphold the right of EU and UK citizens who have already worked, lived or retired in the UK or in the EU 27. The Commission's draft also looks at the cost of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and underlines its demand that the UK pays for the cost of Brexit, for instance the relocation of European agencies located in the UK.
This is the reality of these negotiations. The EU will act to protect its interests and we shouldn’t be surprised by this. It doesn’t mean to say that they will be punitive, but we shouldn’t expect the UK government to be handed everything it wants on a silver platter. If we are going to create any goodwill going into these discussions, the UK government must act - and must act now - for example to clarify the position of EU citizens currently in the UK.
You can read a copy of the draft directives here:
This week I have been in Taiwan, meeting the President and Ministers with an EU Foreign Affairs Committee delegation. Taiwan is looking to win more allies in the EU and although Taiwan’s most important relationship is with the USA they’re increasingly looking towards the EU as troubles in the region increase.
The news reached me as I landed in Taipei that there was to be a UK general election. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, went as far as to suggest this is a Brexit as directed by Alfred Hitchcock - I see where he is coming from!Read more
After the Brexit drama of the last few weeks things have settled to the ‘grind slow but grind small’ granular approach Brussels is so good at, and the negotiating teams and mandates are being worked upon in earnest now. For my part after a weekend being interviewed by the French media in Paris it was good to be back in Brussels getting on with the job.Read more
This week saw the European Parliament formally vote on its position for negotiations with the UK following the triggering of Article 50.
Crucially, in recital N the Parliament notes that “a large number of United Kingdom citizens, including a majority in Northern Ireland and Scotland, voted to remain in the European Union”. The acknowledgement of Scotland’s remain vote shows a clear will in Brussels to engage with the conundrum we face as a Remain-voting nation within the UK.Read more
This week has been emotional, with the letter finally delivered to trigger Article 50 and commence the process of leaving the EU. It is not inevitable that we do eventually leave, if a week is a long time in politics two years is an eternity, but the clock is now ticking and unless something happens, in two years time the UK will leave the EU. If you have the heart you can read the letter here
The EU has looked on with sadness and regret while the UK has made this decision. As Donald Tusk, president of the Council, said at the end of his statement: “what can I add to this? We already miss you.”Read more
This week my thoughts are with everyone caught up in the dreadful events in London. I wish to join with the president of the European Parliament and extend my deepest sympathies to the victims (twitter.com/EP_President/...)
Though everything else seems to pale to insignificance in contrast to the loss of life, there have been some more developments this week. Notably, that we have a date. Article 50 will be triggered on the 29 March 2017 which is next Wednesday.Read more
Theresa May has not listened, her government has refused to countenance compromise and now we face the cold reality of the UK constitution.Read more
The tension is clearly rising as we approach Theresa May’s deadline for triggering article 50. It is not yet clear when the back and forth between the House of Lords and the House of Commons will end. I hope Theresa May will at least have the decency to avoid initiating the UK’s withdrawal from the EU near the 25th March 2017 as that marks the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community.Read more
This week we saw a vision of the future of the EU laid out in a thoughtful, intelligent and sensitive speech from President of the Commission Jean Claude Juncker.
His speech unveiled a White Paper on the future of the EU27. Personally speaking I am desperately sad that Scotland faces not being part of this important conversation. Brexit, if it happens, is not going to uninvent the EU and it is a tragedy that Scotland faces being removed against our will. If you are interested in the full text and explanations of the various options being discussed you can read more here:Read more
The EU has begun to get down to the nitty gritty details and has confirmed that they see the UK paying about €60 billion before leaving. It is not a simple process (the explanation from Politico that I have included covers it well) but remember this is just the first step. Nothing else can be discussed until this is agreed to by the UK. That means that for now all talk of trade deals, discussion over cross border healthcare, farming, environmental regulation, workers’ rights or consumer rights are just pipe dreams.Read more