European Commission takes next step in Article 50 process by recommending draft negotiating directives

The College of Commissioners has today sent a recommendation to the Council to open the Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom. It includes draft negotiating directives. This legal mandate follows the adoption on Saturday by the European Council of political guidelines.

Today’s text complements the guidelines and provides the necessary details to conduct the first phase of the negotiations. This reflects the two-phased approach put forward by the leaders of the 27 Member States and prioritises those matters which are necessary to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union.

The negotiating directives cover 4 main areas. Safeguarding the status and rights of citizens – EU27 citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU27 – and their families is the first priority of the negotiations. The Commission’s recommendation also states clearly that agreement on the principles of the financial settlement must be reached before it is possible to move on to the second phase of the negotiations. The negotiations should not undermine in any way the Good Friday Agreement. Solutions should be found to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. Finally, arrangements must be found regarding dispute settlement and the governance of the withdrawal agreement.

Michel Barnier, Union negotiator for the Article 50 negotiations with the UK, said “With our recommendation today, we are on track to make sure that the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union happens in an orderly fashion. This is in the best interests of everyone. As soon as the UK is ready, we shall start negotiating in a constructive manner.”

Next steps

Today’s recommendation will be sent to the Council, where it is set to be adopted by the General Affairs Council on 22 May.


On 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union. The European Council adopted its political guidelines on 29 April 2017. The negotiations will, at all times, be conducted in light of the European Council guidelines and in line with the Council’s negotiating directives and with due regard to the European Parliament’s resolution of 5 April 2017.

For More Information

Q&A on today’s recommendation

Text of the recommendation

European Council guidelines

Q&A on Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union

Task Force on Article 50 Negotiations with the United Kingdom (TF50) webpage