Blow to Britain as Juncker’s EU Commission put in charge of Brexit talks

JEAN-CLAUDE Juncker’s army of bureaucrats will be placed squarely in charge of the Brexit talks quashing Britain’s hope of negotiating a deal with individual member states, it has emerged today.

In a body blow to Theresa May a leaked document shows that the EU Commission will take the lead in what were already expected to be fractious negotiations with the UK over its exit from the bloc.British officials had been hoping that the EU Council, which represents the 27 heads of Government in the bloc, would wield the most influence during the two-year talks with European leaders.

Ministers believed that talks with leaders such as Germany’s Angela Merkel would be less acrimonious and more likely to be successful, with individual states thought to be more open to compromise on thorny issues such as freedom of movement.

Jean-Claude JunckerAFP

Jean-Claude Juncker’s EU Commission will be in charge of the Brexit talks

But their hopes have been squashed by a draft agenda for tomorrow’s upcoming EU Council meeting – obtained by Sky News – which shows that member states have agreed to cede powers to unelected Brussels bureaucrats in an effort to keep the crumbling bloc together.The surprise move is a huge victory for the Commission, which has been involved in a frantic power struggle with capital cities across the continent over who would take charge of the Brexit process.

And it will elevate Mr Juncker’s hand-picked negotiator, the French politician Michel Barnier, to a position of enormous power within the bloc whilst the UK will be sidelined from key meetings once Article 50 has been triggered.

Michel BarnierGETTY

Michel Barnier will assume a hugely powerful role in the Brexit talks

Guy Verhofstadt GETTY

Guy Verhofstadt has threatened to begin his own Brexit talks

The decision by national governments to give up their influence over the Brexit talks is a sign of the growing determination to ensure that Britain’s vote to leave does not lead to the break up of the EU.Brussels officials had been concerned that Mrs May would adopt a successful divide and conquer strategy, targeting negotiations with individual member states to secure vital concessions on trade and immigration.

They feared that if the UK began striking behind closed doors deals with countries like Germany, France and Italy it would cause huge divisions which would rip apart the fabric of the bloc.

However, the decision to place the EU Commission and the controversial Mr Barnier in charge comes with its own risks.

In particular, it heightens the probability of a so-called ‘hard Brexit’, with Brussels pen-pushers less likely to budge on any key issues to secure favourable trade terms with Britain.

And it confirms the EU’s stated committment that it will prioritise keeping the other 27 member states together over sealing a deal with Britain, even if it causes both sides economic harm.

Mrs May will attend what is likely to be a frosty meeting of the EU Council in Brussels tomorrow, but will then be booted out as the other 27 EU leaders hold talks at a working dinner.The draft proposals, which effectively sideline the EU Council and the EU Parliament in the Brexit negotiations, will be discussed at the dinner.

They state that the Council will be present throughout the talks “in a supporting role”, but the Parliament will have even less involvement than that.

According to the plan: “The Council will be invited to nominate the European Commission as the Union negotiator.

“The Union negotiator will invite representatives of the President of the European Council to be present and participate, in a supporting role, in all negotiation sessions alongside the European Commission representatives.”

Confirming that Mrs May will be almost entirely sidelined from the EU’s decision making processes in future, it adds: “The members of the European Council, the Council and its preparatory bodies representing the United Kingdom will not participate in the discussion or in the decisions concerning it.

“Representatives of the 27 Heads of State or Governments will be involved in the preparation of the meetings of the European Council as necessary. Representatives of the European Parliament will also be invited to participate in these preparatory meetings.”

Earlier today the plan provoked a furious response from the EU Parliament’s chief negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, who threatened to break away and begin his own negotiations with Britain unless MEPs were given a greater role.Speaking at a plenary session of the EU Parliament today, Mr Verhofstadt blasted: “What they are proposing is simply to say we go forward with the Brexit negotiations without the parliament.”

He then rounded on stunned EU Council official Ivan Korcok, asking him: “Are you not aware that we have to approve these arrangements?

“Do you want that we open separate negotiations with the British authorities? You can get it – if that’s what you want we’ll do it. It’s time that you also involved the parliament from day one.”

Mr Verhofstadt then repeated a famous Lyndon B Johnson quote – that “it’s probably better to have him inside the tent p****** out, than outside the tent p****** in” – telling Mr Korcok: “Maybe that’s a good reality that you can recall to the European Council.”

MEPs will have to vote on any Brexit deal reached with the UK Government, which will also have to be ratified by the parliaments of all 27 other member states.

Speaking after Mr Verhofstadt, former Ukip leader Mr Farage said the extraordinary row provided further evidence that Britain was right to quit the dysfunctional bloc.

He told the chamber: “I’m concerned listening to Guy Verhofstadt that once we trigger article 50 it may become so unworkable that we simply have to say we’re going goodbye.”

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If any of the “stated procedures” about the manner of the negotiations come as ‘fresh news’ either to the British Government’s Bureaucrats, to Mrs. May, to her Cabinet, or to her SpAds, or to the investigative Journo’s responsible for this Piece – then they should be dismissed their Posts for dereliction of duty in not bothering to read the Lisbon Treaty’ on how a Member State may leave the EU, what the procedures will be, and the successive changes in Voting – which occurred as planned in 2009 [Qualified Majority Voting] and will further change to Enhanced Qualified Majority Voting… Read more »


Perhaps we should not so gently remind them that we do not need their article 50 to leave the EU and we never have, despite the nonsense spouted that it is the only way to leave legally. We could declare our independence and walk away immediately and later when they realize what they have done and are prepared to talk like sensible human beings discus the only thing we need to discuss with them and that is the ex pats. We can use the WTO to trade with the EU which is certainly no worse than than the EU’s Single… Read more »

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