Today, MEPs lay out their input for the upcoming European Council | European Parliament Pressroom

MEPs will debate their priorities ahead of the 22-23 June European Council Wednesday at 9.00.

Migration, security and defence will top the summit agenda. The Brexit negotiations will most likely be addressed as well in the debate with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Maltese minister Helena Dalli representing the Council on Wednesday at 09.00.

Back in May, the European Parliament urged EU countries to fulfil their obligations and speed up the relocation of refugees, giving priority to children travelling alone. They also seek ambitious reform of the common European asylum system.

MEPs also consistently support more cooperation on defence between EU countries, calling on Member States to show political commitment, increase investment, share information, pool resources and create synergies at EU level in order to better protect Europeans.

The top priority for the Brexit negotiations is the safeguarding of the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in other countries of the EU.

You can watch the plenary debate via EP Live, and EbS+

Debate: Wednesday, 14 June 

#EUCO #Brexit #migrationEU #refugeecrisis #EUdefence @JunckerEU

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Five challenges facing next UK premier | with AFP

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 17.17.55Whoever ends up becoming Britain’s new prime minister faces a daunting five years in office, with the negotiations of the country’s withdrawal from the European Union topping the list of priorities. According to the authors, the five main challenges ahead consist of Brexit, terrorism and security, the economy, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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Brexit negotiations: today, debate with Tusk, Juncker and Barnier on European Council’s conclusions | European Parliament – Press Room

MEPs will debate on Wednesday morning the guidelines for the EU negotiations with the UK that the European Council agreed at its last meeting in April. European Council President Donald Tusk, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and EU chief negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier will take part in the debate.

The guidelines agreed by the Council are broadly in line with the key principles and conditions for the UK’s withdrawal agreement European Parliament adopted on 5 April. In their resolution, MEPs gave priority to securing equal and fair treatment for EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU. Other key points concern the integrity of the internal market, the peace process in Northern Ireland, and the budgetary aspects of the UK withdrawal.

Any agreement at the end of UK-EU negotiations will need to win the approval of the European Parliament.

Debate:  Wednesday 17 May

Procedure:  European Council and Commission statements

Press conference tbc

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Report by President Donald Tusk to the European Parliament on the Special European Council (Art. 50) of 29 April | EU Council Press

would like to report the outcome of the first formal meeting of the European Council of 27, which took place on 29th April. Our main purpose was to adopt political guidelines for the Brexit negotiations. A mandate that sets out the overall principles, objectives and process. And a mandate that the European Council will update as necessary, as the talks get under way.

A key element of the guidelines is the need to conduct the talks on the basis of a ‘phased approach’. This means simply that there will be no discussion of the framework for our future relations with Britain, before sufficient progress is made on ensuring an orderly withdrawal. Leaders fully supported this logic.

To ensure an orderly withdrawal, we first and foremost need to address the situation of more than four million people, whose lives will be directly impacted by Brexit, on both sides. In a very real way, their futures depend on the outcome of these talks. It is our particular responsibility to secure the best guarantees for citizens – citizens of the Union – and for their families. That means guarantees that are effective, enforceable, non-discriminatory and comprehensive, accompanied by simple and smooth administrative procedures. There is a need to act quickly, and so we are ready. Now we must move from sharing objectives to actually ensuring that citizens get the necessary guarantees. That’s also why I welcome the fact that the Commission has already listed a number of detailed requirements.

The second priority in the first phase is the need to agree that all financial commitments undertaken by the EU of 28 will also be honoured by the UK. And thirdly, in order to protect the peace and reconciliation process described by the Good Friday Agreement, we must aim to avoid a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Only once there is sufficient progress on these priorities, can we proceed to the next phase of the negotiations about our future relations. And it will be for the European Council of 27 to assess and decide if – and when – we have achieved sufficient progress.

When it comes to our future, the European Council shared the United Kingdom’s desire to establish a close partnership. It is obvious, however, that a relationship between the European Union and a non-Member State cannot offer the same benefits as EU membership. It is clear that a free trade agreement between the EU and the UK, which is what the UK has chosen, even if it is ambitious and wide-ranging, cannot mean participation in the Single Market or its parts. And at the same time, the UK must be aware that any free trade agreement will have to ensure a level playing field, and encompass safeguards against unfair competitive advantages through, inter alia, tax, social, environmental and regulatory measures and practices. Today it is too early to tell much more about our common future, but we will make our guidelines more precise when the time comes, namely when sufficient progress in the first phase is achieved.

Leaders responded with the urgency that the situation requires. There will be very little time to conclude withdrawal talks within the framework foreseen by the Treaty. Time is of the essence here, and much is at stake.

Next Monday, the Council will adopt a set of negotiating directives, proposed by the chief negotiator, on the basis of the guidelines we adopted on April 29th. These cover the three issues I have just mentioned, plus a number of other matters that need to be addressed in the first phase of the negotiations.

Since the referendum in June last year, we – the EU27 – have been united, consistent, and demonstrated solidarity with one another. What was – and remains – most important for me, is that our conduct in these talks will show the European Union at its best: in terms of unity, political solidarity and fairness towards the United Kingdom.

Finally, I can only praise the European Parliament and its leaders for the role they have played. Sincere thanks and appreciation for your constructive assistance. This bodes well – not only for the future of the negotiations, but our future as a Union of 27. Thank you.

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What Macron’s victory means for Brexit, by A.Glencross | EUROPP LSE Blog


As one of the EU’s most powerful states, France will have a large say over the final outcome of the Brexit negotiations. Andrew Glencross assesses how Emmanuel Macron’s victory in the French presidential elections will impact on the process. Macron could pursue a tougher line on Brexit than his predecessor, while the current border arrangements between the UK and France could also be up for renegotiation. Amidst the turbulent past few weeks of UK-EU Brexit wrangling, relatively little attention has been paid to the effect the election of a new French president will have on these negotiations. UK tabloids have been busy instead making hay with their preferred EU bogey-figures, namely Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker, who are both portrayed as bullies embittered by the very notion that a member state wants to leave the club. The victory of Emmanuel Macron – the insider’s outsider –suddenly means there could be another leader that comes to embody EU hostility to the UK after the Brexit referendum.

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Invitation letter by President Donald Tusk to the members of the European Council (Art. 50) | EU Council – Press

Following the United Kingdom’s notification of withdrawal from the European Union, we will meet on Saturday for the first time as the formal European Council of 27 to adopt guidelines for the upcoming Brexit negotiations.

Let me highlight one element of our proposed guidelines, which I believe is key for the success of these negotiations, and therefore needs to be precisely understood and fully accepted. I am referring to the idea of a phased approach, which means that we will not discuss our future relations with the UK until we have achieved sufficient progress on the main issues relating to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. This is not only a matter of tactics, but – given the limited time frame we have to conclude the talks – it is the only possible approach.

In other words, before discussing our future, we must first sort out our past. We need to secure the best guarantees for our citizens and their families. Guarantees that are effective, enforceable, non-discriminatory and comprehensive, and which should be accompanied by simple and smooth administrative procedures. We should also agree with the UK that all financial obligations undertaken by the EU of 28 will be honoured also by the UK. Finally, in order to protect the peace and reconciliation process described by the Good Friday Agreement, we should aim to avoid a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Only once we collectively determine in the European Council that sufficient progress has been made on all these issues, will we be in a position to hold preparatory talks on the future relationship with the UK. I would like us to unite around this key principle during the upcoming summit, so that it is clear that progress on people, money and Ireland must come first. And we have to be ready to defend this logic during the upcoming negotiations.

Our meeting will start at 12.30 with an exchange of views with the President of the European Parliament. Following this exchange, we will gather for a working lunch, where we will adopt the guidelines and have a broader debate on Brexit to help inform the future negotiations. Given the constructive attitude that you have shown during our preparations, I expect that we will be able to conclude by 16.00.

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Will London Survive Brexit? by H.Davies | Project Syndicate


Brexit has set a hungry cat among the financial pigeons of the City of London. No one yet knows what kind of access to the European Union’s single financial market UK-based firms will have, and Prime Minister Theresa May’s call for a general election to be held on June 8 has further clouded the picture, at least in the short term. But there is a nagging assumption that things cannot remain the same, and that there will be a price to be paid for leaving the EU. So UK-based financial services firms, especially those that have chosen London as their European headquarters precisely in order to secure access to the whole EU market from one location, are reviewing their options. Indeed, regulators are obliging them to do so, by asking how they will maintain continuity of service to their clients in the event of a “hard” Brexit. (May’s government prefers to talk of a “clean” Brexit, but that is semantics). Rival European centers have spotted an opportunity to claw some of this business back to the continent (or to Ireland). Other governments have long resented London’s dominance. It was galling to have to acknowledge that the principal center for trading in euro-denominated instruments lay outside the eurozone.

Read the full Article here

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Indicative programme – General Affairs Council (Art. 50) of 27 April 2017 | EU Council Press Room

Place:        European Convention Center Luxembourg
Chair:        Louis Grech, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for European Affairs of Malta

All times are approximate and subject to change

from 09.30
Arrivals (live streaming)

+/- 09.55
Doorstep by Deputy Prime Minister Grech

+/- 11.00
Beginning of Council meeting
Draft guidelines following the United Kingdom’s notification under Article 50 TEU

+/- 13.00
Press conference
 (live streaming)

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INVITATION | DEBATE | The ‘two-speed Europe’ project and the Brexit negotiations: a combined unity test? (April 26)

We are most pleased to invite you to participate in an evening of discussion on the ‘two-speed Europe’ project and the Brexit negotiations as a unity test for the EU with our distinguished speakers Ms Danuta Maria Hubner MEP (EPP/PL), Mr Jo Leinen MEP (S&D/DE), Mr Michael Theurer MEP (ALDE/DE).

The debate will be moderated by Graham Bishop, leading expert in EU and UK Economic, Financial and Government Affairs.

About the debate

While the UK was grappling with internal disagreements on both the timing of the triggering of Article 50 and the establishment of the extent to which the British Parliament should have controlled the Brexit process, the leaders of the EU’s four largest economies organised a meeting in Paris in order to prepare the 25th of March EU summit in Rome and (re) launch the so-called ‘two-speed Europe’ proposal, namely a newly reinvigorated method to forge ahead with integration, while leaving those not on board free to join when they deem it appropriate. These political developments can also have been interpreted as a first reaction to the so-called ‘White Paper’ in which President Juncker outlined the main challenges and opportunities for Europe in the coming decade and presented five scenarios according to which the European Union could evolve by 2025, depending on how it will respond.

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Brexit: MEPs agree on key conditions for approving UK withdrawal agreement | European Parliament – Press room

An overwhelming majority of the house (516 votes in favour, 133 against, with 50 abstentions) adopted a resolution officially laying down the European Parliament’s key principles and conditions for its approval of the UK’s withdrawal agreement. Any such agreement at the end of UK-EU negotiations will need to win the approval of the European Parliament.

MEPs stress the importance of securing equal and fair treatment for EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU. They also point out that the UK remains an EU member until its official departure, and that this entails rights but also obligations, including financial commitments which may run beyond the withdrawal date.

The resolution warns against any trade-off between security and the future EU-UK economic relationship, opposes any sort of cherry picking or a piecemeal economic relationship based on sector-specific deals, and reiterates the indivisibility of the four freedoms of the single market – free movement of goods, capital, services, and people.

Finally, the resolution says that only when “substantial progress” has been made in talks on how the UK is to leave the EU can discussions begin on possible transitional arrangements. These arrangements must not last longer than three years, while an agreement on a future relationship can only be concluded once the UK has left the EU.

Citizens first

Citizens’ interests must be at the forefront right from the beginning, says the resolution, which goes on to note that Irish citizens “will be particularly affected”. MEPs urge all parties to remain committed to the Northern Ireland peace process and avoid a hard border. The special circumstances presented by this situation must therefore be addressed as a matter of priority in the withdrawal agreement.

The resolution also warns the UK against any attempt to limit rights linked to the freedom of movement before it effectively withdraws from the EU and asks the EU-27 to examine how to address the fear of British citizens that Brexit will lead to the loss of their current EU citizenship rights.

Negotiating principles

MEPs call for both sides to act in good faith and full transparency so as to ensure an orderly exit.

The resolution notes that it would be a breach of EU law for the UK to negotiate trade agreements with third countries before it left the EU, and warns against the UK engaging in bilateral talks with one or some EU member states on the withdrawal proceedings or the EU-UK future relationship.

Continued obligations

The UK will continue to enjoy its rights as a member of the EU until its departure.  At the same time, however, it will also have to shoulder its obligations, including financial obligations stemming inter alia from the current long-term EU budget. Such financial commitments could run beyond the date of departure, the resolution adds.

European Parliament closely involved

The European Parliament intends to build on the elements set out in this resolution as the negotiations develop, for example by adopting further resolutions, including on specific matters or sector-specific issues, the resolution says.

Plenary debate on Brexit before the vote

Earlier, leaders of the European Parliament political groups debated their priorities in the negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The crucial role of MEPs during the negotiations was underlined by EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who also took part in the debate.

Opening the debate, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said that “Parliament’s vote will be decisive for the final outcome of the conditions for the UK’s withdrawal and for future EU-UK relations. The recent terrorist attacks make it clear that all European countries will need to continue working closely with each other.”

The debate showed wide cross-party support for giving top priority to protecting the interests of the citizens most affected by Brexit. The majority of group leaders also underlined that whereas it was important for the talks to take place in a serene atmosphere, the EU 27 would need to remain united and strongly defend their own interests.  All left-leaning groups also said that maintaining high levels of social protection would be a top priority for them.

Several leaders stressed that Brexit must serve as a catalyst for renewing the EU in that it demonstrates how intrinsically bound together the member states are.

Leaders of the EFDD and ENF groups rejoiced at the launch of the withdrawal process and accused the EU of seeking to “punish” the UK.

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