Monday

23rd Apr 2018

EU states to keep control of Brexit talks

  • Former commissioner Michel Barnier would lead the talks with the UK (Photo: European Commission)

Twenty seven EU leaders, without Britain’s Theresa May, will sit down for dinner in Brussels on Thursday (15 December), to discuss the technicalities of Brexit negotiations.

The final act of the EU summit will not agree guidelines for the upcoming talks, but is expected to agree on the procedure.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The 27 are to issue a short statement reiterating that there would be no negotiations with London before it invoked the Article 50 exit clause in the Lisbon Treaty.

On Monday, EU diplomats sketched out a draft annex, seen by EUobserver, to the EU27 statement that goes into some detail of how they envisage the Brexit process.

May said she would trigger Article 50 by the end of March by formally notifying the other EU states of the UK's intention to leave.

Once that is done, the 27 will "set out the overall positions and principles" of their negotiation mandate, the annex says. They could amend these guidelines later, if necessary.

According to the one-page draft document, the General Affairs Council [GAC], which is made up of EU affairs ministers and foreign ministers, would handle the Article 50 procedure. It would authorise the opening of negotiations, based on the guidelines.

The EU negotiator will most likely be the European Commission, as it has the manpower to handle the legal quagmire.

"We want to make sure that there is one negotiator on the continental side, and the Commission has the know-how and the capacities," an EU official told EUobserver.

The source said that "on the other hand, it must be clear that the Commission will not negotiate on its institutional behalf, but on behalf of the 27 [countries], that have tangible interests [in the outcome]."

Barnier's leash

The EU27 aim to hold the Commission and its chief negotiator, French politician Michel Barnier, on a tight leash.

"There is a strong appeal from the member states that they should fully participate and want to have strong control over the negotiations," said an EU official.

Barnier will need to include people from EU council chief Donald Tusk's office in the discussions with the UK.

Regular meetings of EU ambassadors and a specially dedicated working group in the EU Council, with a permanent chairman, will also make sure that the negotiations are conducted in line with the guidelines and will "provide guidance" to Barnier.

"We have major issues at stake. It’s not us being difficult with the Commission, but this is a negotiation like no other, so it has to be very carefully designed in terms of institutional mechanics," an EU diplomat said.

"We have to make sure there is no meltdown at national parliament level [when the final Brexit deal has to be ratified], that’s why [we need] the strict control," the diplomat added.

Barnier said last week that he would also keep the European Parliament informed.

UK locked out

The UK’s representatives will not take part in any of the internal EU talks, whether in GACs, lower level EU27 Council groups, or EU inter-institutional meetings.

The annex does not go into political objectives that the 27 aim to push for.

"We are not there yet," a senior EU diplomat said.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Davis brings Brexit back to reality

Brexiteers will be shocked to hear the government is considering slaughtering the sacred cow, offering up contributions to the EU budget in exchange for market access.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Warm words in London, isolation in Brussels

British PM Theresa May found herself in not so splendid isolation at Thursday's EU summit, where Brexit garnered 20 minutes of time from EU leaders, suggesting Britain is fast approaching European political sidelines.

Analysis

New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability

The EU's latest funding rules for European political parties and their think tanks fails to address the underlying problems of abuse. Instead of tackling the loans and donations culture, it has simply made access to EU funds a lot easier.

Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study

On Thursday, the European Parliament will vote on a political deal on organic farming, following 19 months of behind-closed-doors negotiations. EUobserver here details a five-month odyssey to get access to the secret documents that led to the deal.

News in Brief

  1. Commission will 'not shy away' from Malta killing repercussions
  2. EU Commission opens probe on Alitalia state loan
  3. Paris suspect given 20-year sentence for Brussels shoot-out
  4. Merkel and Pena Nieto praise EU-Mexico trade agreement
  5. Nahles elected new leader of Germany's SPD
  6. Report: EU budget to refocus on South
  7. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  8. MEPs urge better protection for journalists

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. 'Strong suspicion' of corruption in Council of Europe assembly
  2. France tightens immigration law, sparking division
  3. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  4. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  5. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  6. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  7. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  8. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability