Friday

20th Oct 2017

EU outlines tough Brexit goals, seeks 'entente cordiale'

  • Barnier said he is interested in solutions, not hostility during Brexit talks (Photo: European Commission)

The EU wants the rights of EU and UK citizens affected by Brexit secured for a lifetime. It also wants the UK to pay the cost of relocating EU agencies and to pay its EU bills until 2023.

These were among the key elements of the bloc's negotiating position, unveiled on Wednesday (3 May) by the European Commission.

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.

British prime minister Theresa May hit back by saying the EU wanted to interfere in the UK elections and that “some in Brussels" did not want the Brexit talks to succeed.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned against the “illusion” that the process would be painless and quick. He urged the UK to start negotiations as soon as possible after its election on 8 June.

“The clock is ticking and days are going by,” he said at a press conference in Brussels.

The French politician tried to soothe tensions between Brussels and London after Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker reportedly described the UK’s position as “delusional”.

"I hope we will be able to build an 'entente cordiale' between the UK and the 27, which will last well beyond Brexit,” he said, referring to the name of the Franco-British alliance sealed at the start of the 20th century.

The task could be arduous, as Barnier's mandate included several items that will be difficult to swallow for UK negotiators.

The mandate covers only for the first phase of negotiations focusing on the divorce, once again dashing May’s hopes of talking about a future EU trade deal in parallel.

“There will be human, social, economic, technical, financial, legal consequences … that’s why things have to be done in a given order,” Barnier said as an argument against parallel talks.

He said he expected "no window-dressing, sufficient progress, clear principles" from London, "so we can get to the second phase as soon as possible.”

He hoped to have achieved enough progress by October to be able to recommend to EU leaders to open the second phase this year.

The negotiators have 15-16 months after talks start in June to agree on the divorce so that EU leaders and the European Parliament have enough time to sign off the accord before the UK is automatically excluded from the EU in March 2019.

Citizens

As a precondition to move on, the EU set out a long list of rights that needed to be protected and guaranteed for life for EU citizens living the UK, and UK citizens living in the bloc.

The Commission estimated that there were 3,2 million EU citizens living in the UK and 1.2 million UK citizens living in the UK, but the deal would cover more people, including those who had previously lived in the UK or the EU.

The EU wanted to guarantee their right to reside, access to work, health care, and education, and the mutual recognition of diplomas on the basis of EU law for a lifetime.

The bloc wanted those rights to be guaranteed by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the Luxembourg-based court whose jurisdiction May wanted Britain to leave.

That meant, for instance, that if UK citizens felt their rights has been violated in an EU country, they could turn to the ECJ, after exhausting national courts, and vice versa.

EU officials insisted that as the divorce deal foresaw the continued application of EU law, the only court that would be competent to interpret and enforce EU law was the ECJ.

No bill

The EU also wanted to “settle the accounts” before the UK exited the bloc, and before future trade talks could start. Figures of between €60 billion and €100 billion have circulated in the media.

“This is not a punishment or an exit tax,” Barnier said on Wednesday.

The EU was looking for a single financial settlement that would cover all financial relations and commitments that the UK had undertaken as a member.

It covered EU programs, projects, funds and facilities related to European policies and European institutions like the European Investment Bank and the European Central Bank.

The UK was also asked to pay for the relocation of two EU agencies, the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority, from the UK to the EU.

EU officials refused to speculate on a global figure for the UK, saying that the EU might enter into new commitments while the UK is still a member and the final cost could still change.

EU officials also pointed out that the UK would have to pay even after it left the bloc, as obligations stemming from EU cohesion funds could extend until 2023.

Meanwhile, Barnier will visit Ireland next week for talks on avoiding a hard border with Northern Ireland, which could jeopardise the peace agreement reached in 1998, one of the EU’s key Brexit objectives.

"As a negotiator, I’ll be focusing on facts, laws, and solutions. I won’t be guided by emotions and hostility,” Barnier, a former French government minister, said.

He described the controversial dinner last week between May and Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker as having been "cordial" despite reports to the contrary in a German newspaper.

He said they shared a common love of “rambling in the mountains”.

He also said that hiking held useful lessons for Brexit talks.

"If you like like walking in the mountains, you have to learn certain rules, like putting one foot in front of the other, because sometimes you are on a steep and rocky path. You also have to look at what accidents might befall you. You have to be very careful to keep your breath, you have to have to stamina, could be keep a lengthy path, and you have to keep looking at the summit, the outcome," he said.

May hits back

May wasted no time to hit back on Wednesday, accusing "some in Brussels" of not wanting the talks to succeed.

She said the continental press had misrepresented Britain's negotiating position.

"The European Commission's negotiating stance has hardened," she said, adding that "threats against Britain have been issued by European politicians and officials".

May accused the EU of wanting to interfere with the results of the 8 June UK election, but Barnier refused to comment on the UK vote in his press briefing.

Barnier unveils EU's Brexit goals

Barnier to set out EU negotiating positions on citizens' rights, divorce costs, and Ireland in Brexit talks, amid a prickly atmosphere between London and Brussels.

May accused of 'poisoning' EU talks

The UK prime minister is accused of making "paranoid and xenophobic" statments and alienating EU partners after she claims that some in Brussels do not want Britain to succeed.

Analysis

May on mission impossible in Brussels

UK prime minister called on other EU leaders to "step forward together", but she has almost nothing to offer them except the threat of walking away.

EU rejects UK claim it's slowing Brexit talks

The EU is "not confident, but hopeful" that the UK will achieve sufficient progress for 'stage 2' by December, as Britain's Brexit negotiator blames the slow pace of negotiations on the EU ahead of a crucial summit meeting.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  2. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  3. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  4. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  5. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict
  6. Dutch PM: Brexit is 'still a bad idea'
  7. Commission to issue proposal on civil protection
  8. Tusk: 'No space' for EU intervention in Catalonia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEJC Applauds the Bulgarian Government for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  2. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  3. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  6. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  7. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  8. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  9. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  10. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  11. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year
  2. ILGA-EuropeMass Detention of Azeri LGBTI People - the LGBTI Community Urgently Needs Your Support
  3. European Free AllianceCatalans Have Won the Right to Have an Independent State
  4. ECR GroupBrexit: Delaying the Start of Negotiations Is Not a Solution
  5. EU2017EEPM Ratas in Poland: "We Enjoy the Fruits of European Cooperation Thanks to Solidarity"
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina and UK Discuss Deepening of Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
  7. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceEHLA Joins Commissioners Navracsics, Andriukaitis and Hogan at EU Week of Sport
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Representative Office Opens in Brussels to Foster Better Cooperation
  9. UNICEFSocial Protection in the Contexts of Fragility & Forced Displacement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Support Start-Ups
  11. ILGA EuropeInternational Attention Must Focus on LGBTI People in Azerbaijan After Police Raids
  12. European Jewish CongressStrong Results of Far Right AfD Party a Great Concern for Germans and European Jews