General Affairs Council (Art. 50), 18/09/2018

Main results

The Council, in EU27 format, was briefed by the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on the state of play in the Brexit negotiations following the latest rounds of negotiation with the UK. Ministers had an opportunity to discuss the situation and the way forward.

There are still some important matters that need to be solved. However, we hope that in the next few weeks an agreement can be reached that guarantees an orderly Brexit, including of course an operational backstop for the border between Ireland and North-Ireland. There is still time left to find common ground to agree on a political declaration on future relations, with the UK as a close partner. On all these matters, ministers showed again today that even in these final stages of the negotiations, we remain committed to the unity of the EU 27.

Gernot Blümel, Austrian Federal Minister for the EU, Art, Culture and Media

The withdrawal agreement should be agreed in good time to be ratified by both parties before the withdrawal date of 29 March 2019. Negotiations on the framework for the future relationship should lead to an overall understanding which will be set out in a political declaration accompanying and referred to in the withdrawal agreement.

The Council took note of the agenda for October’s European Council (Article 50) meeting. EU27 ministers will continue the preparations of the October summit in their next meeting on 16 October 2018 in Luxembourg.