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General Election 2017 – Results

A General Election was held in the UK on 8 June 2017 and 32,181,75 votes were cast from an electorate of 46,843,896 which shows a turnout of 68.7% and that 14,662,139 people, 31.03% of the possible electorate, DID NOT VOTE.

To have an overall majority a party needs to get one more seat than the number of seats won by all the other parties added together.

The results to elect 650 Members of Parliament were as follows:

The results show that the Conservatives won the election by having the largest number of seats, at 318, but fall short of an overall majority for which 326 seats are required. Thus, the election has resulted in a “hung” Parliament.

The Labour party came next having the next largest number of seats at 262 seats.

Since the previous election, the Conservatives have lost 13 seats, Labour have gained 30 seats, the SNP have lost 21 seats, Liberal Democrats have gained 4 seats, the Democratic Unionist Party have gained 2 seats, Sinn Fein 3 seats and Plaid Cymru 1 seat. UKIP, the Social Democratic & Labour party and the Ulster Unionist Party no longer have seats in Parliament.

In terms of seats, the biggest losers in this election were SNP followed by the Conservatives. The biggest winners being Labour. However, having lost their overall majority in Parliament, the Conservatives are certainly the biggest losers.

The Conservative party have sought to forge an alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party in order to form a government.

Facts and Figures

England have 533 seats in Parliament. The Conservatives have 297 (-22) seats, Labour 227 (+21), Liberal Democrats 8 (+2) and the Green party 1 (0). UKIP lost their only seat. Figures in brackets indicate changes in the number of seats since the last general election in 2015.

Scotland have 59 seats in Parliament. The SNP hold 35 (-21) seats, Conservatives 13 (+12), Labour 7 (+6) and Liberal Democrats 4 (+3).

Wales have 40 seats in Parliament. Labour have 28 (+3) seats, Conservative 8 (-3) seats and plaid Cymru 4 (+1) seats. The Liberal Democrats lost their only seat in Wales.

Northern Ireland have 18 seats in Parliament. The Democratic Unionist Party have 10 (+2) seats, Sinn Fein 7 (+3), the SDLP and UUP last all their seats and an independent gained the other seat.

The following graphic shows the percentage of votes cast and arranged in order of seats won by each party

One graphic, which you may not see very often, shows the results as a percentage of the total electorate rather than as a percentage of the votes cast.

People

Nick Clegg, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, lost his seat in Sheffield Hallam to Labour.

Former Liberal Democrat MP Vince Cable regained his seat in Twickenham.

Alex Salmond (former first minister of Scotland) lost his seat on a swing of 20% to the Conservatives.

Angus Robertson, SNP leader at the House of Commons, lost his seat to the Conservatives.

Paul Nuttall came third in Boston and Skegness with 3,308 votes where the seat was held by the Conservatives with 27,271 votes. He subsequently resigned as leader of UKIP.

Tim Farron retained his seat in Westmorland and Lonsdale, after a recount, by 777 votes.

Amber Rudd retained her seat in Hastings and Rye, after a recount, by 346 votes.

Interesting

Exit Poll

An exit poll was created by Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University on behalf of the BBC, ITV and Sky broadcasters and was based on interviews conducted with voters outide polling stations after they had voted. It was released at 10:00pm after voting had closed and predicted:

The Conservatives would be the largest party but without an overall majority winning 314 seats, down 17 on the previous election, Labour would have 266 seats up 34, the SNP would have 34 seats down 22. Liberal democrats on 14 seats up 6, Plaid Cymru 3, Greens 1 and UKIP 0 with other parties on 18

General Election 2017 – Manifestos

A general election will take place in the UK on 8th June 2017 and the main parties have issued their Manifestos.

Copies of the manifestos can be found as follows (in alphabetical order):

Conservatives

https://www.conservatives.com/manifesto

Greens

https://www.greenparty.org.uk/green-guarantee/

Labour

http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/manifesto2017

Liberal Democrats

http://www.libdems.org.uk/manifesto

Scottish National Party (SNP)

https://www.snp.org/manifesto

UKIP

http://www.ukip.org/manifesto2017

It is unclear how many people actually spend the time to trawl through these documents. The Conservative manifesto weighs in at around 88 pages, Labour covers around 128 pages and the Liberal Democrats at around 100 pages. Far better would be a document of 1 or 2 pages summarising the “claims” of what they intend to do if elected as the governing party.

Once in power, these documents are not always followed depending on the prevailing wind at the time. Items often being conveniently dropped if it doesn’t actually suit the actual aims of the party (or parties) in power. In addition they can used to claim that they (the party) have a mandate to implement unpopular or controversial decisions as they were elected on the basis of their manifestos.

EU – Brexit Negotiation Documents

The EU will publish all documents, related to negotiations with the UK, which are shared with EU member states.

The EU Commission tweeted on 22 May 2017:

We want full transparency. #Article50 negotiating documents will be released to the public & will be published here.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/article-50-negotiations-united-kingdom/european-commissions-approach-transparency-article-50-negotiations-united-kingdom_en

https://twitter.com/EU_Commission

The Commission, as European Union negotiator, will ensure a maximum level of transparency during the whole negotiating process.

Commission negotiating documents which are shared with EU Member States, the European Council, the European Parliament, the Council, national parliaments, and the United Kingdom will be released to the public.

Documents wil be provided at

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/publications/article-50-negotiations-united-kingdom_en

Some of the initial documents available are:

Recommendation for a Council Decision authorising the Commission to open negotiations with the UK setting out arrangements for its withdrawal from the EU

https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/recommendation-uk-eu-negotiations_3-may-2017_en.pdf

Annex to the Commission recommendation on negotiations with the UK

https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/annex-recommendation-uk-eu-negotiations_3-may-2017_en.pdf

European Council (Art. 50) guidelines for Brexit negotiations

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/press-releases-pdf/2017/4/47244658130_en.pdf

Directives for the negotiation of an agreement with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal from the European Union

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/gac/2017/05/directives-for-the-negotiation-xt21016-ad01re02_en17_pdf/

European Commission receives mandate to begin negotiations with the UK

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-1405_en.htm

Statement by Michel Barnier at the press conference following the General Affairs Council (Art. 50)

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-17-1422_en.htm

EU Article 50 Taskforce

The EU Taskforce on Article 50 negotiations with the UK is in charge of preparing and conducting the negotiations with the UK, taking into account the framework of its future relationship with the European Union.

It is responsible for coordinating the European Commission’s work on all strategic, operational, legal and financial issues related to negotiations with the United Kingdom

Details at

https://ec.europa.eu/info/departments/taskforce-article-50-negotiations-united-kingdom_en

The Chief Negotiator is Michel Barnier and the deputy Chief Negotiator is Sabine Weyand.

Here is an organisation chart of the team dated April 2017

Early General Election

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Theresa May has announced an early general election to take place on 8th June 2017. She made the announcemnt on Tuesday 18th April 2017 outside 10 Downing Street.

Here is the full announcement (also available as a pdf file HERE):

I have just chaired a meeting of the Cabinet where we agreed that the Government should call a general election to be held on 8th June. I want to explain the reasons for that decision, what will happen next and the choice facing the British people when you come to vote in this election. Last summer after the country voted to leave the European Union, Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership and since I became Prime Minister the Government has delivered precisely that. Despite predictions of immediate financial and economic danger since the referendum we have seen consumer confidence remain high, record numbers of jobs and economic growth that has exceeded all expectations.

We have also delivered on the mandate that we were handed by the referendum result. Britain is leaving the European Union and there can be no turning back. And as we look to the future the Government has the right plan for negotiating our new relationship with Europe. We want a deep and special partnership between a strong and successful European Union and a United Kingdom that is free to chart it’s own way in the world. That means we will regain control of our own money, our own laws and our own borders and we will be free to strike trade deals with old friends and new partners all around the world.

This is the right approach and it is in the national interest, but the other political parties oppose it. At this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster, but instead there is division. The country is coming together, but Westminster is not. In recent weeks Labour has threatened to vote against the final agreement we reach with the European Union, the Liberal Democrats have said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill, the SNP say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain’s membership of the European Union and unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way. Our opponents believe that because the Government’s majority is so small, our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course.

They are wrong.

They underestimate our determination to get the job done and I am not prepared to let them endanger the security of millions of working people across the country because what they are doing jeopardises the work we must do to prepare for Brexit at home and it weakens the Government’s negotiating position in Europe. If we do not hold a general election now their political game-playing will continue and the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election. Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country.

So we need a general election and we need one now because we have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin. I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion. Since I became Prime Minister I have said that there should be no election until 2020, but now I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions I must take.

And so tomorrow I will move a motion in the House of Commons calling for a general election to be held on the 8th of June. That motion, as set out by the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, will require a two-thirds majority of the House of Commons. So I have a simple challenge to the opposition parties. You have criticised the Government’s vision for Brexit, you have challenged our objectives, you have threatened to block the legislation we put before Parliament. This is your moment to show you mean it, to show you are notopposing the Government for the sake of it, to show that you do not treat politics as a game.

Let us tomorrow vote for an election, let us put forward our plans for Brexit and our alternative programmes for government and then let the people decide. And the decision facing the country will be all about leadership. It will be a choice between strong and stable leadership in the national interest with me as your Prime Minister, or weak and unstable coalition government led by Jeremy Corbyn, propped up by the Liberal Democrats who want to reopen the divisions of the referendum and Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.

Every vote for the Conservatives will make it harder for opposition politicians who want to stop me from getting the job done. Every vote for the Conservatives will make me stronger when I negotiate for Britain with the prime ministers, presidents and chancellors of the European Union. Every vote for the Conservatives will mean we can stick to our plan for a stronger Britain and take the right long-term decisions for a more secure future.

It was with reluctance that I decided the country needs this election, but it is with strong conviction that I say it is necessary to secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond. So, tomorrow, let the House of Commons vote for an election, let everybody put forward their proposals for Brexit and their programmes for Government, and let us remove the risk of uncertainty and instability and continue to give the country the strong and stable leadership it demands.

In order for the election to take place at least 2/3rds of MPs must agree to a motion in the House of Commons.

Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, general elections are scheduled to take place every five years and the next general election was scheduled to take place on 7 May 2020. However, the Fixed-term Parliaments Act allows for an earlier election to take place:

    if a motion for an early general election is agreed either by at least two-thirds of the whole House or without division

or

    if a motion of no confidence is passed and no alternative government is confirmed by the Commons within 14 days.

At least two-thirds of the total number of MPs, 434 MPs, must vote for the motion to trigger an early general election. The motion could be passed without a division if there are no objections in the Chamber.

MPs voted on the following motion on 19th April 2017:

That there will be an early parliamentary general election

which was approved by 522 to 13

Thus, a general election has been scheduled for 8th June 2017.

EU Parliament Brexit Negotiation Guidelines

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The EU Parliament has agreed their own set of guidelines regarding how negoitiations with the UK should be conducted. (The withdrawal negotiations can only be concluded with the consent of the European Parliament)

The Joint Motion for a Resolution is titled :

The European Parliament resolution on negotiations with the United Kingdom following its notification that it intends to withdraw from the European Union

and was prepared by Guy Verhofstadt and others.

The vote was 516 – 133 (with 50 abstentions) in favour of the motion on 5 April 2017.

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=P8-RC-2017-0237&language=EN

Overall, in many respects, the guidelines are similar to those proposed in the guidelines for negotiation produced by Donald Tusk.

One interesting entry (item 27) states:

27. Takes note that many citizens of the United Kingdom have expressed strong opposition to losing the rights they currently enjoy pursuant to Article 20 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union; proposes that the EU-27 examine how to mitigate this within the limits of Union primary law whilst fully respecting the principles of reciprocity, equity, symmetry and non-discrimination;

There has been mention in the past of the creation of some form of European Citizen membership where individual UK citizens could pay for a type of associate membership which would retain some of the benefits currently enjoyed as EU Citizens. Whether this would ever be implemented, or in fact even discussed as part of the Brexit negotiations, remains to be seen, but it is interesting to note that it has been included in these guidelines.

Full details of the debate on this resolution can be found on the European Parliament website at

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-%2f%2fEP%2f%2fTEXT%2bCRE%2b20170405%2bTOC%2bDOC%2bXML%2bV0%2f%2fEN&language=EN

Verhofstadt tweeted his speech at

https://twitter.com/GuyVerhofstadt/status/849531889446789120

and this is a transcript:

Guy Verhofstadt, on behalf of the ALDE Group. –

Mr President, I have the feeling that it was a very sad moment on Wednesday of last week when the British ambassador gave his letter to President Tusk. That was my feeling anyway: a very sad moment.

It is true, naturally, that the relationship between Britain and Europe was never an easy relationship, let us recognise that. It was never a love affair and certainly not a question of wild passion. I think it was a little bit like a marriage of convenience, if I can use that term.

It was already clear, dear colleagues, from the beginning. In the 1950s Britain decided against membership of the European Coal and Steel Community. Attlee and Labour did not want it, and it was Churchill and the Tories who were in favour, it is good to recall this.

And in 1955 at the start of the Common Market, Britain walked away from the negotiating table.

In the early years of the Union it was the British Prime Minister Macmillan who looked at the continent with nothing less than suspicion. What were they cooking up there in Brussels, were they really discussing coal and steel and customs union, or were they also talking politics in Brussels, plotting on foreign policy? Oh, God forbid, defence matters even!

So British Prime Minister Macmillan wrote to his foreign minister, and, I quote, I have the quote here: For the first time since Napoleon the major continental powers are united in a positive economic grouping, but considerable political aspects, and to his own surprise, Macmillan had to admit this new experiment, and I quote further, was not directed against Britain.

So when Britain finally joined the European Union in 1973 after, as we all know, several blockades by General de Gaulle, the headlines were festive. You have to read all the British press in 1973, it was a great day for Britain to join the European Union. Let us be honest about this, it was only a short honeymoon, as we know, because Margaret Thatcher asked for her money back and her successor John Major called the euro, and I quote again, ‘a currency as strange as a rain dance, with the same impotence’. Well, I have to tell you that the pound slipping against the euro, as we see today was not exactly what Major expected at that moment.

But all the rest, let us be honest with each other, is history.

Perhaps let us recognise that it was maybe impossible to unite Great Britain with the Continent, and naive maybe to reconcile the legal system of Napoleon with the common law of the British Empire, and perhaps it was never meant to be.

(Applause)

But, and this is important – and I hope you are applauding this also – our predecessors should never be blamed for having tried, because it is important in politics, as it is in life, to try new partnerships, new horizons, to reach out to the other, to the other side of the channel. I am also convinced and 100% sure about one thing: that one day or another, dear colleagues, there will be a young man or a young woman who will try again, who will lead Britain into the European family once again.

(Applause)

And a young generation that will see Brexit for what it really is: a catfight in the Conservative party that got out of hand. A loss of time, a waste of energy, and I think, a stupidity. Although I continue to think that Brexit is a sad and regrettable event, I also believe it is important to remember something. Remember what Britain and Europe in these more than 40 years have achieved together. It is true, we may not have had the most passionate relationship, but it was not a failure either, not for Europe, and certainly not for Britain and the British.

Let us not forget, Britain entered the Union as the sick man of Europe, and thanks to the single market, came out the other side. Europe also made Britain punch above its weight in terms of geopolitics, as in the heyday of the British Empire. And we, from all sides, must pay tribute to Britain, to Britain’s immense contributions as a staunch and unmatched defender of free markets and civil liberties. And thank you for that because as a Liberal, I will miss that in the future.

Colleagues, within a few weeks we will start the process of separation. And I think, Mr Juncker and Mr Barnier, the goal must be to have a new and stable relationship and a deep and comprehensive partnership and association between the UK and the EU that certainly will be very different, as we all know, from membership. In this new venture let us always remember one thing. Our common bonds, our common culture, our common and shared values, our joint heritage, our history. And let us never forget that together we in fact belong to the same great European civilisation, from the Atlantic port of Bristol, I go as far as to the banks of the mighty river Volga; but maybe that is a little too far for the moment.

But let us be honest, and this will be my final point. Brexit is not only about Brexit. Brexit has to be also about our capacity for a rebirth of our European project, because let us recognise that Brexit did not happen by accident. Even though since Brexit I see what I call a change for the good in the mood of the public, let us not fool ourselves: Europe is not yet rescued and Europe has not yet recovered from the crisis.

Europe is still in need of change, I think in need of radical change: change towards a real Union, an effective Union based on values and based on the real interests of our citizens. And a Union also – and I want to conclude with this – that stands up against autocrats. Autocrats will close down their universities, to give one example.

(Applause)

Autocrats will throw journalists into jail, as is happening today. Autocrats will make corruption their trademark. And yesterday, as we all have seen, beyond any humanity, autocrats again bombed innocent women and children with chemical weapons in Syria, to give the nastiest example.

So in these negotiations which will have to start in the coming weeks, let us never forget why our founding fathers – British and other Europeans alike – launched this European project. There are three words: freedom, justice and peace – these are three great things that are worth fighting for.

Other Links

Red lines on Brexit negotiations

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/20170329IPR69054/red-lines-on-brexit-negotiations

EU Draft Guidelines for Brexit Talks

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Donald Tusk has released draft guidlines on the approach to be taken by the EU during the Brexit negotiations.

The proposals are due to be discussed and agreed during a special European Council meeting of the EU27 leaders (27 members of the EU not including the UK) scheduled for 29 Aril 2017.

Donald Tusk indicated, during a speech outlining the proposals on 31 March 2017, that talks on a future relationship will not start until sufficient progress on the withdrawal process has been achieved and that negotiations will not be conducted on all issues at the same time.

The initial phase will concentrate on the following items

  • determining the status of EU citizens who live, work and study in the UK
  • preventing a legal vacuum for EU companies after Brexit as a result of EU laws no longer applying in the UK
  • the UK must honour all financial commitments and liabilities incurred as a member state. The EU guarantees to honour all their commitments
  • avoiding the creation of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

The full speech is available at

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/03/31-tusk-remarks-meeting-muscat-malta/

Draft Guidelines

The 9 page Draft Guidelines document outlines a number of principles to be followed by the EU during negotiations these include the following

Core Principles

There will be no separate negotiations between individual Member States and the United Kingdom on matters pertaining to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union.

Phased approach to negotiations

The first phase is to

  • settle the disentanglement of the United Kingdom from the Union and from all the rights and obligations the United Kingdom derives from commitments undertaken as Member State
  • provide as much clarity and legal certainty as possible to citizens, businesses, stakeholders and international partners on the immediate effects of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the Union.

Article 50 requires negotiations to consider the future relationship of the UK with the EU. The Union and its Member States stand ready to engage in preliminary and preparatory discussions to this end in the context of negotiations under Article 50 TEU, as soon as sufficient progress has been made in the first phase towards reaching a satisfactory agreement on the arrangements for an orderly withdrawal.

The European Council will monitor progress closely and determine when sufficient progress has been achieved to allow negotiations to proceed to the next phase.

The two year timeframe set out in Article 50 TEU ends on 29 March 2019.

Agreement on arrangements for an orderly withdrawal

Looking after the interests of EU citizens and UK citizens is a priority item.

The impact of the UK leaving on EU businesses trading with and operating in the UK and vice versa.

A single financial settlement to cover all legal and budgetary commitments as well as liabilities including contingent liabilities.

The EU should recognise existing bilateral agreements and arrangements between the UK and the Republic of Ireland which are compatible with EU law and to support the goal of peace and reconciliation enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement.

The Union should agree with the United Kingdom on arrangements as regards the Sovereign Base Areas of the United Kingdom in Cyprus and recognise in that respect bilateral agreements and arrangements between the Republic of Cyprus and the United Kingdom.

The UK will no longer be covered by agreements concluded by the EU or by Member States acting on its behalf or by both acting jointly. The European Council expects the UK to honour its share of international commitments contracted in the context of its EU membership.

The future location of the seats of EU agencies and facilities located in the UK is a matter for the 27 Member States, arrangements should be found to facilitate their transfer.

The withdrawal agreement should include appropriate dispute settlement mechanisms.

Consideration of the (on-going) role of the Court of Justice of the EU.

Preliminary and preparatory discussions on a framework for the EU – UK future relationship

The European Council welcomes and shares the UK’s desire to establish a close partnership between the EU and the UK after its departure and this should encompass more than just trade.

The British government has indicated that it will not seek to remain in the single market and seeks a free trade agreement. The European Council stands ready to initiate work towards such an agreement, to be finalised and concluded once the UK is no longer a Member State.

Beyond trade, the EU stands ready to consider establishing a partnership in other areas, in particular the fight against terrorism and international crime as well as security and defence

After the UK leaves the EU, no agreement between the EU and the UK may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without the agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the UK.

Principle of sincere co-operation

Until it leaves the EU, the UK remains a full member of the EU.

A copy of the document can be found at

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/31_03_17_eu_draft_guidelines.pdf

The Great Repeal Bill

The European Communities Act 1972 (ECA) accepted the supremacy of EU law in the UK. The principle of supremacy says that EU law prevails if it conflicts with national law.

The Great Repeal Bill is legislation which will be introduced in the UK to end the supremacy of EU law in the UK.

On the day that the UK officially leaves the EU the European Communities Act 1972 will be repealed and all EU laws currently in force will be converted into UK law.

A White Paper: Legislating for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union was presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, on 30 March 2017.

The paper outlines the approach the UK Government will take in order to replace EU laws by equivalent UK laws.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/604514/Great_repeal_bill_white_paper_print.pdf

In his statement to Parliament David Davis said

We have been clear that we want a smooth and orderly exit – and the Great Repeal Bill is integral to that approach. It will provide clarity and certainty for businesses, workers and consumers across the United Kingdom on the day we leave the EU.

The complete statement is available at

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/david-davis-commons-statement-on-the-great-repeal-bill-white-paper

Other References

European Communities Act 1972

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1972/68/contents

European Union Act 2011

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/12/contents

How the EU works: EU law and the UK

https://fullfact.org/europe/eu-law-and-uk/

EU Law Terminology:

Direct Effect

https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/observatories/eurwork/industrial-relations-dictionary/direct-effect

Regulations
https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/observatories/eurwork/industrial-relations-dictionary/regulations

Directives
https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/observatories/eurwork/industrial-relations-dictionary/directives

Treaty Provisions
https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/observatories/eurwork/industrial-relations-dictionary/treaty-provisions

UK invokes Article 50

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The UK

On the 29 March 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May wrote to European Council President Donald Tusk to notify him of the UK’s intention to leave the EU. The letter was delivered by Sir Tim Barrow, the UK’s ambassador to the EU.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/prime-ministers-letter-to-donald-tusk-triggering-article-50

….
Today, therefore, I am writing to give effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom. I hereby notify the European Council in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union. In addition, in accordance with the same Article 50(2) as applied by Article 106a of the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, I hereby notify the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Atomic Energy Community.

The letter is 6 pages long and outlines the UK’s approach to negotiations suggesting a number of principles that could be adopted in an attempt to ensure that the negotiations proceed as smoothly as possible:

  1. We should engage with one another constructively and respectfully, in a spirit of sincere cooperation
  2. We should always put our citizens first
  3. We should work towards securing a comprehensive agreement
  4. We should work together to minimise disruption and give as much certainty as possible
  5. We must pay attention to the UK’s unique relationship with the Republic of Ireland and the importance of the peace process in Northern Ireland
  6. We should begin technical talks on detailed policy areas as soon as possible, but we should prioritise the biggest challenges
  7. We should continue to work together to advance and protect our shared European values

The letter also mentions a White Paper will be released tomorrow (30 March 2017) which will provide details of legislation to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 which gives effect to EU law in the UK. (This legislation is also known as the Great Repeal Bill.)

Theresa May gave a statement on the letter in Parliament details of which can be found at

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/prime-ministers-commons-statement-on-triggering-article-50

The EU

Donald Tusk responded to the notification letter and mentioned

So, here it is, six pages: the notification from Prime Minister Theresa May, triggering Article 50 and formally starting the
negotiations of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. There is no reason to pretend that this is a happy
day, neither in Brussels, nor in London. After all, most Europeans, including almost half the British voters wish that we would stay together, not drift apart. As for me I will not pretend that I am happy today.

….

On Friday I will share a proposal of the negotiating guidelines with the Member States, to be adopted by the European Council on 29 April.

Full details are available at

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/03/29-tusk-remarks-uk-notification/

A Statement by the European Council (Art. 50) on the UK notification was also issued.

For the European Union, the first step will now be the adoption of guidelines for the negotiations by the European Council. These
guidelines will set out the overall positions and principles in light of which the Union, represented by the European Commission,
will negotiate with the United Kingdom.

In these negotiations the Union will act as one and preserve its interests. Our first priority will be to minimise the uncertainty
caused by the decision of the United Kingdom for our citizens, businesses and Member States. Therefore, we will start by
focusing on all key arrangements for an orderly withdrawal.

We will approach these talks constructively and strive to find an agreement. In the future, we hope to have the United Kingdom as
a close partner.

President Tusk has convened the European Council on 29 April 2017.

Full details are available at

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/03/29-euco-50-statement-uk-notification/

What happens next ?

The withdrawal agreement must be negotiated in accordance with Article 218 (3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Step 1
An extraordinary European Council will be convened by the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk. (This will happen on 29 April).
The European Council will adopt by consensus a set of guidelines on the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. These guidelines will define the overall principles that the EU will pursue during the negotiations based on the common interest of the European Union and of its Member States.

Step 2
After the adoption of the guidelines, the Commission will very quickly present to the Council a recommendation to open the negotiations. This will be agreed by the College of Commissioners, 4 days after the meeting of the European Council.

Step 3
The Council will then need to authorise the start of the negotiations by adopting a set of negotiating directives. They must be adopted by strong qualified majority (72% of the 27 Member States, i.e. 20 Member States representing 65% of the population of the EU27).
Once these directives are adopted, the Union negotiator, as designated by the Council, is mandated to begin negotiations with the withdrawing Member State.

60th Anniversary of the Treaties of Rome

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The Treaties of Rome were the founding treaties establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC), which were signed on 25 March 1957 and entered into force on 1 January 1958.

Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (EEC)
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:xy0023

Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom)
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=URISERV%3Axy0024

A history of the EU can be found in the following timeline

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/history/

EU heads of State or Government were invited to meet in Rome, Italy, on 25 March 2017 for the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties. (Theresa May declined the invitation to attend)

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/03/15-tusk-invitation-letter-60-anniversary-rome/

The leaders will look back at the achievements of the last 60 years, reaffirm their unity, their common interests and values, as well as reflect on the current challenges and set the priorities for the next ten years and are expected to issue the Rome Declaration.

Background information and a programme is available at

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/european-council/2017/03/170323-FINAL-Rome-background_pdf/

A joint declaration was signed by the leaders of 27 member states and by representatives of the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission.

The declaration outlines a 10 year plan for the future direction of the EU with a pledge to work towards

  • A safe and secure Europe
  • A prosperous and sustainable Europe
  • A social Europe
  • A stronger Europe on the global scene

amongst other things, it includes a commitment to work towards Economic and Monetary union

The full text of the declaration is available at

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/03/25-rome-declaration/

References

https://europa.eu/newsroom/home_en

All pictures are © European Union, 2017

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