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The results from the Week…

So on, Thursday 12th October 2017, saw both sides of the Brexit talks give their roundup of the progress made to date and assessments of where to next, at this final round of negotiations prior to next week’s European Council meeting. It is at this meeting that Michel Barnier is due to advise the EU 27 about whether the discussions have now reached a point wherein the talks may move on to discussions about the UK and EU’s future relationship.

Of course, both sides talked effusively about the constructive nature of this round of talks. Once again both speeches made reference to the “new dynamic” supposedly brought about by Theresa May’s, famous foray into the Brexit negotiation arena in Florence.

So, let’s cut to the quick? Did it work? Are we ready to move on?

Short answers from each side

Mr. Barnier, no.

Mr.  Davis, oh please let us? Can we if we say pretty please?

Taking extracts from each statement in turn to summarize the issues.

MICHEL BARNIER

“We still have a common goal: the desire to reach an agreement on the UK’s withdrawal and to outline our future relationship, when the time comes.”

He reiterates the three matters that need initial settlement, citizens’ rights, Northern Ireland and the financial settlement and comments on each.

Mr.  Barnier outlines where each of these discussions are still subject to divergence. It hasn’t changed since the last round of talks.

CITIZENS’ RIGHTS

There is still no agreement on how consistency of interpretation of the rights should be agreed.

Michel Barnier reiterates what has been the EU position from the beginning:

“This means for us the role of the European Court of Justice.”

He goes on to outline other sticking points.

“Furthermore, divergences still exist on the possibility of family reunification and on the exportation of social benefits after Brexit, both of which we want.”

Whilst he mentions the “simplified procedure” that the UK side has promised it will put in place to ensure citizens can assert their rights. He continues:

“We will study attentively the practical details of this procedure, which should really be simple for citizens.”

IRELAND

As ever the question of what to do about what will become the only land border between the UK and the EU post Brexit still remains unresolved. Mr. Barnier still appears to believe the UK must take responsibility for offering proposals which are necessary as a result of “the UK, and therefore Northern Ireland, leaving the EU legal framework.”

FINANCIAL SETTLEMENT

On this subject Michel Barnier was brief and to the point.

Theresa May confirmed in her Florence speech that the UK will honour commitments it has made during the period of its membership. This is an important commitment.

The UK told us again this week that it still could not clarify these commitments. Therefore, there was no negotiation on this, but we did have technical discussions which were useful, albeit technical.

We are, therefore, at a deadlock on this question. This is extremely worrying for European taxpayers and those who benefit from EU policies.”

CONCLUSION

Mr. Barnier then summed up his assessment of the present position and concluded.

“On this basis, and as things stand at present, I am not able to recommend to the European Council next week to open discussions on the future relationship.”

He was adamant that the negotiations had nothing to do with any side “making concessions.” He said that these agreements could not be built on concessions which played no part in relation to rights of citizens or Northern Ireland.

He finished with this statement.

“In these complex and difficult negotiations, we have shared objectives, we have shared obligations, we have shared duties, and we will only succeed with shared solutions. That is our responsibility.”

DAVID DAVIS

Mr. Davis also took the issues in turn.

CITIZENS’ RIGHTS

Mr. Davis accepted that there were still some hurdles to overcome.

This week we explored ways of making sure the rights we agree now will be enforced in a fair and equivalent way.”

“And we have discussed ways of ensuring the consistent interpretation of the concepts of EU law that will underpin much of our Agreement.”

While we have not yet arrived at a single model that achieves this we have explored creative solutions and are confident that we’ll reach an agreement soon.

We have also focused this week on the other remaining issues on which we have not yet arrived at a solution and Michel referred to a few of them.”

He wanted to call attention to what he believed was a strong offer by the UK. This is the matter which the EU side has said it will study the detail with attention.

“I want to highlight one particularly productive area of our talks this week.

Today I can confirm that we want to reassure those European citizens living in the UK that their rights and status will be enshrined in UK law by the Withdrawal Agreement.

And yes, there will be a registration process but the administration process will be completely new. It will be streamlined, and it will be low cost.”

IRELAND

 Whilst emphasising that everyone needs and recognises the need to “get this right,” David Davis acknowledges that the solution has not yet been found.

“As Michel said, there is more work to do here in order to build a fuller picture of how we overcome the challenges to North-South cooperation once the UK has left the European Union.”

FINANCIAL SETTLEMENT

 On this issue David Davis made a bit of a non- speech. He certainly did not offer any specifics or proposed methods of calculation.  Basically, he said all this would have to come later. The most positive thing he could say was

In line with the process agreed at our last round of talks, we have undertaken a rigorous examination of the technical detail where we need to reach a shared view.”

CONCLUSION

In conclusion Mr. Davis wanted the EU to know that the UK had entered these negotiations in a constructive spirit and given that he now wants to move onto talks about the future relationship to give certainty to businesses, citizens and the rest of the EU. He made a direct appeal to the EU 27 to get to that point next.

“As I said when I stood here last time, I hope the leaders of the 27 will provide Michel with the means to explore ways forward with us on that and to build on the spirit of cooperation we now have.”

“As we look to the October European Council next week, I hope the Member States will recognise the progress we have made, and take a step forward in the spirit of the Prime Minister’s Florence speech.

Doing so will allow us to best achieve our joint objectives by turning the ideas we have explored into concrete shared proposals.

That’s the way that we’ll move towards a deal that works for both the United Kingdom and the European Union.”

Is this a matter of wishful thinking in the face of Mr. Barrier’s recommendation to next week’s European Council meeting? This will only be revealed next week.

 

Read the two closing statements in full here:

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-17-3921_en.htm

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/david-davis-closing-remarks-at-the-end-of-the-fifth-round-of-eu-exit-negotiations-in-brussels

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