European Commission – Statement Statement by Michel Barnier Brussels, 22 September 2017

Barnier has written a statement in reply to Theresa May’s Florence speech.  Let us look at some of the aspects of it.


European Commission – Statement

Statement by Michel Barnier

Brussels, 22 September 2017

In her speech in Florence, Prime Minister Theresa May has expressed a constructive spirit which is also the spirit of the European Union during this unique negotiation.

I don’t believe that the second part of the sentence is worth commenting on.

The speech shows a willingness to move forward, as time is of the essence. We need to reach an agreement by autumn 2018 on the conditions of the United Kingdom’s orderly withdrawal from the European Union. The UK will become a third country on 30 March 2019.

Well, at least, it is universally recognised that Britain will leave the EU and become a third country in March, 2019.  However, I believe that it would actually occur on the 29th March, not the 30th as Article 50 states that leaving will occur on the second anniversary of the notice of secession.  It may only be one day in question, but it could be important and must therefore be accurate.

Our priority is to protect the rights of citizens. EU27 citizens in the United Kingdom must have the same rights as British citizens today in the European Union. These rights must be implemented effectively and safeguarded in the same way in the United Kingdom as in the European Union, as recalled by the European Council and European Parliament. Prime Minister May’s statements are a step forward but they must now be translated into a precise negotiating position of the UK government.

All current ‘EU Citizens’ must abide by the local Laws and the rules of the European Union.  They must have the same rights and be compliant with the Law whilst under that jurisdiction.  That must legally be the case for those British Citizens that choose to remain in Europe.

However, Britain, when it leaves, will no longer be under the jurisdiction of the EU, but will instead, be subject only to British Law.  In the same way that a visitor from any third country to the EU, must obey the Law of the land in which they find themselves but only whilst in that place.  In fact, British Citizens who choose to remain in Europe, will also have to comply with British Law if and when they return and not have any additional ‘rights’ as bestowed on them by the EU.

In the same way, EU Citizens can only be subject to British Law whilst in Britain and can only resume their EU ‘rights’ upon leaving Britain.

No Sovereign Country can be required to accommodate a parallel legal system to its own.

With regard to Ireland, the United Kingdom is the co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement. Today’s speech does not clarify how the UK intends to honour its special responsibility for the consequences of its withdrawal for Ireland. Our objective is to preserve the Good Friday Agreement in all its dimensions, as well as the integrity of the Single Market and the Customs Union.

The ‘Good Friday Agreement’ is an internal matter relevant only to Britain (and NI) and the Irish Republic.  It does not come under the purview of the European Union except as in the normal diplomatic representation of a ‘country’s’ Citizens in a foreign country.  The maintainance of the EU’s external borders is a matter for them as it is also for Britain to maintain its external borders.  Whereas it is preferable, in the present view of the British Government to seek to keep an ‘open’ border between the two states, it must not be allowed if it is shewn that such a border is detrimental to the security, financial and migrant policy of Great Britain.

The United Kingdom recognises that no Member State will have to pay more or receive less because of Brexit. We stand ready to discuss the concrete implications of this pledge. We shall assess, on the basis of the commitments taken by the 28 Member States, whether this assurance covers all commitments made by the United Kingdom as a Member State of the European Union.

Britain will not, nor should not, continue to be financially responsible for any other State other than its own.  Britain must only be concerned with its own well being whilst, if possible, comply with the benefit of another State.  It is beneficial to both sides that trade should continue between the existing Member States but it should not be to the detriment of Britain

Today, for the first time, the United Kingdom government has requested to continue to benefit from access to the Single Market, on current terms, and to continue to benefit from existing cooperation in security. This is for a limited period of up to two years, beyond its withdrawal date, and therefore beyond its departure from the EU institutions.

If the European Union so wishes, this new request could be taken into account. It should be examined in light of the European Council guidelines of 29 April 2017: “Should a time-limited prolongation of Union acquis be considered, this would require existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures to apply.”

If Britain leaves the EU in March, 2019, then it will once again become a Sovereign Nation.  There can be no question that Britain remains within EU Budgetary or Judicial requirements outside of the EU.  It is especially essential that Britain is not prevented from pursuing its own trading arrangements outside of the EU from March, 2019.

The sooner we reach an agreement on the principles of the orderly withdrawal in the different areas – and on the conditions of a possible transition period requested by the United Kingdom – the sooner we will be ready to engage in a constructive discussion on our future relationship.

The EU does not actually appear to be paying anything other than ‘lip service’ to a possible agreement.  In fact, it has been decidedly unhelpful to the point where many believe that the EU does not want to arrive at an agreement at all.  Many Britons consider that it would be in our best interests to just walk away from further ‘negotiations’ and stop wasting everybody’s time.

The EU shares the goal of establishing an ambitious partnership for the future. The fact that the government of the United Kingdom recognises that leaving the European Union means that it cannot keep all the benefits of membership with fewer obligations than the other Member States is welcome. In any case, the future relationship will need to be based on a balance of rights and obligations. It will need to respect the integrity of the Union’s legal order and the autonomy of its decision-making.

The EU will continue to insist on sufficient progress in the key areas of the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom before opening discussions on the future relationship. Agreeing on the essential principles in these areas will create the trust that is needed for us to build a future relationship together.

David Davis and I will meet in Brussels next Monday to begin the fourth round of the negotiations. As always, we are preparing the upcoming round with the 27 Member States and the European Parliament. On Monday I will have a discussion with the European Parliament in its Brexit Steering Group, as well as with all Member States in the General Affairs Council.

We look forward to the United Kingdom’s negotiators explaining the concrete implications of Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech. Our ambition is to find a rapid agreement on the conditions of the United Kingdom’s orderly withdrawal, as well as on a possible transition period.

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Britain is being humiliated. All pronouncements from Brussels suggests they are in a stronger position than we are and all pronouncements from Britain seems to be accepting so. The charade and games must end. No need for any extensions. Leave and be done with. Large businesses need to be flexible, strategise and survive. They want us to forget people’s views and impose their own. Parliament should put a date in the withdrawal bill and that can end all uncertainties – of people, businesses and politicians. We have the reins (or should I say reigns!) in our hands and must use… Read more »

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