Monday

21st Aug 2017

Be fair in Brexit talks, EU tells UK

  • "We want to talk about fairness and commitment," European Council president Donald Tusk (r) said. (Photo: Consilium)

Open but firm. Two days after the UK government sent the letter to start the process of its EU exit, the remaining 27 states are setting out their negotiating position.

"The talks which are about to start will be difficult, complex and sometimes even confrontational. There is no way around it," European Council president Donald Tusk said on Friday (31 March).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

  • Maltese PM Joseh Muscat insists on the need for a "sincere spirit of cooperation" in the upcoming talks. (Photo: Consilium)

He added that "the EU-27 does not and will not pursue a punitive approach" because "Brexit in itself is already punitive enough".

"There is no such thing as a penalty for leaving the EU," he told journalists in Valletta, Malta, referring to the €60 billion or more in liabilities, which the Union will ask the UK to pay before leaving.

He said that this was "only fair towards all those people, communities, scientists, farmers and so on, to whom we, all the 28, promised and owe this money."

But Tusk, who has sent the draft negotiating guidelines to member states, warned that the British government should respect some principles if it wants the talks to go well.

"We want to talk about fairness and commitment," he said.

"If [the UK] wants to achieve a constructive agreement, they should discuss only with the 27 as the EU," he said.

"This only way to achieve anything," he said, warning London against the temptation to negotiate directly with other capitals to obtain concessions.

Speaking alongside Tusk, Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat, whose country currently holds the Council presidency, added that there was "just one point of contact" between the UK and the EU in the upcoming talks.

"That negotiation is led exclusively from the European side by [European Commission negotiator] Michel Barnier," he said, adding that this was a "clear demarcation line".

'No bargaining chip'

Tusk also repeated the EU's position that future relations between the UK and the bloc will be discussed only when a divorce agreement can be reached.

"Starting parallel talks on all issues at the same time, as suggested by some in the UK, will not happen," he said, adding that the EU-27 will assess "probably [in] the autumn if sufficient progress has been achieved".

Tusk also warned British prime minister Theresa May, who he will meet next month, against trying to use security cooperation as a tool to obtain a better economic deal with the EU.

In her notification letter on Wednesday, May wrote that "a failure to reach agreement would mean our cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened".

"No one is interested in using security cooperation as a bargaining chip," Tusk said, noting that "especially" after last week's attack in Westminster, "it must be clear that terrorism and security is our common problem".

But both also tried to defuse the tension over the issue.

"It must be misunderstanding," Tusk argued, adding that the UK are "wise and decent partners".

Muscat said that the EU had "reassurances from the British government" and insisted on the need for a "sincere spirit of cooperation".

Pledge to be 'constructive'

In the draft guidelines sent to member states, the EU says that its "overall objective in these negotiations will be to preserve its interests, those of its member states, its citizens and its businesses".

The EU also pledges to be "constructive" and to "strive to find an agreement", but noted that "it will prepare itself to be able to handle the situation also if the negotiations were to fail".

The draft was being discussed by EU ambassadors in Brussels on Friday. It will be amended by ambassadors and EU leaders' sherpas in the coming weeks, so that EU leaders can approve them at a special summit on 29 April.

'Unhappy' day as UK delivers Brexit letter

European Council chief Donald Tusk said that "damage control" starts for the EU, as British PM Theresa May has invoked Article 50 nine months after the UK voted to leave the bloc.

Transparency is key EU tactic in Brexit talks

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said his mandate and all EU commission working documents will be made public during the negotiations. Tactic or policy shift? This time, the EU is interested in transparency.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Controlling the right of repeal

There was a distinct air of finality about Sir Tim Barrow's personal delivery of the Article 50 letter in Brussels – it certainly marks the end of an era.

EU guidelines set out two-phase Brexit talks

According to the draft negotiating guidelines, the EU-27 would open negotiations on future EU-UK relations when "sufficient progress" has been made on citizens' rights, the British financial bill and the status of the border in Ireland.

EU agency relocation race starts with 23 cities

Cities from 21 countries have applied to host the two London-based EU agencies, which will have to be relocated after Brexit, with Luxembourg throwing its hat in for the banking authority.

News in Brief

  1. Austria has begun checks at Italian border
  2. Slovenian PM: Brexit talks will take longer than expected
  3. Merkel backs diesel while report warns of economic harm
  4. UK to publish new Brexit papers this week
  5. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  6. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  7. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  8. European Union returns to 2 percent growth

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference