The European Commission welcomes the Council’s decision today to authorise the opening of the Article 50 negotiations with the UK and to nominate the Commission as Union negotiator. The Commission also welcomes the adoption of the first set of negotiating directives.
Together with the European Council guidelines agreed by the leaders of the EU27 on 29 April 2017, these negotiating directives outline the priorities for the first phase of the negotiations. Both texts provide the European Commission, as Union negotiator, with the necessary political and legal mandate to negotiate with the UK on behalf of the EU27. The Commission’s nomination of Michel Barnier as Chief Negotiator was welcomed by the European Council in December.
The first phase of negotiations will tackle three main areas: safeguarding the status and rights of citizens – EU27 citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU27 – and their families; reaching an agreement on the principles of the financial settlement of the UK’s obligations as an EU member; providing for the new external borders of the EU, including the protection of the Good Friday Agreement, and finding imaginative solutions in order to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. Other issues include arrangements regarding dispute settlement and the governance of the withdrawal agreement.
The Commission has also published today its transparency policy for the negotiations, which aims to ensure full transparency during the whole negotiating process. Commission negotiating documents which are shared with EU Member States, the European Council, the European Parliament, the Council, national parliaments, and the United Kingdom will be released to the public and will be published here. These documents include, but are not limited to:
- Agendas for negotiating rounds;
- EU position papers;
- EU text proposals.
Michel Barnier, the Commission’s Chief Negotiator for the Article 50 negotiations with the UK, said: “We are ready to sit down at the negotiating table with the UK. Our objective is to rapidly reach an agreement on the issues put forward by the Council today.”
Formal negotiations will begin as soon as the UK is ready. In preparation for the first meeting between the EU and UK negotiators, the Commission will share draft negotiating documents with the EU27 Member States. These documents will cover the following areas: citizens’ rights, Euratom, issues related to goods placed on the market before the UK’s withdrawal, on-going judicial and administrative procedures, the governance of the Article 50 agreement, and the financial settlement. All documents will be made public and will be available on TF50’s webpage.