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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

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

Research Papers from the EU

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The Brexit Negotiations: An Assessment Of The Legal, Political And Institutional Situation In The UK

is an in-depth analysis on the political and institutional situation in the United Kingdom following the referendum on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and was prepared by Charles GRANT from the Centre for European Reform.

This research paper was requested by the European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) and was commissioned, overseen and published by the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs.

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2017/583130/IPOL_IDA(2017)583130_EN.pdf

In a number of findings the research concludes that:

The outcome of the Brexit talks will be shaped to a large degree by the EU governments. They are mostly united in taking a hard line. Worried about the cohesion and unity of the EU, they do not want populist leaders to be able to point to the British and say, “They are doing fine outside the EU, let us go and join them.” Exiting must be seen to carry a price.

There are only three possible outcomes of the Brexit talks:

  • a separation agreement plus an accord on future relations including an FTA;
  • a separation agreement but no deal on future relations, so that Britain has to rely on WTO rules;
  • neither a separation agreement nor a deal on future relations, so that Britain faces legal chaos and has to rely on WTO rules

The Impact and Consequences of Brexit for Northern Ireland

is a Briefing paper prepared by Jonathan Tonge from the University of Liverpool in the UK on behalf of European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO).

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2017/583116/IPOL_BRI(2017)583116_EN.pdf

The paper explores the legal position and other issues concerning Northern Ireland in relation to the UK and Ireland and discusses a number of topics:

  • The Legal position
    • UK government legislative dominance over the Northern Ireland Assembly
    • Challenges to the UK government’s domination of the EU withdrawal process
    • The legal upholding of the UK government’s position
    • The impact of EU withdrawal upon legislation for Northern Ireland
  • Issues relating to the Good Friday Agreement
    • Political stances on EU withdrawal
    • The Good Friday Agreement and Northern Ireland Assembly legislation
    • The Good Friday Agreement and EU membership
    • EU membership references in the Good Friday Agreement
    • How can the Good Friday Agreement be revised?
  • Implications of Brexit for Northern Ireland
    • Issues of free movement: The Common Travel Area
    • Cross-border trade, tariffs and the Customs Union

References

More research and analysis papers from the EU can be found at
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/supporting-analyses

The Centre for European Reform is a think-tank devoted to making the EU work better, and strengthening its role in the world. They are pro-European.
https://www.cer.org.uk

Rights and Obligations of EU membership

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A paper was published by the Government on 14th April 2016, which sets out the main Rights and Obligations arising from the UK’s membership of the European Union.

“This paper aims to set out the main rights and obligations arising from the UK’s membership of the EU. It is not exhaustive and does not seek to cover every right and obligation arising under EU law. Instead, it aims to provide a balanced overview of the most important rights and obligations”

The paper contains a wealth of information outlining the interaction between the UK and the EU.

Here is a brief summary of the main points extracted from the document ( the original consists of almost 100 pages).

Detailed information on each of these topics is provided in  the full document.

The paper is available  at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/516501/Rights_and_obligations_of_European_Union_membership_web_version.pdf

The EU’s Institutions

The EU has a number of institutions involved in taking decisions and making EU laws that apply to the UK. The UK is represented in, or able to nominate members to, all of them. The EU can only make laws within the rules set out in the EU Treaties. These provide different mechanisms for agreeing different types of laws. The UK has a say and promotes the UK’s national interest. Some core principles govern how EU law applies in the UK and in other Member States. But the UK has also negotiated a number of exceptions that give it a special position within the EU.

EU laws

The EU Treaties form the highest level of EU law. They define where the EU is permitted to act, to what extent and how. They also contain a mixture of procedural rules for how the EU operates and substantive rules, such as the requirement that Member States ensure a right to equal pay for men and women. The Treaties set out subject areas in which the EU can make more specific laws, known as the EU’s ‘competences’.Below this, the EU adopts directives, regulations and decisions using the powers set out in the EU Treaties. Directives set out a legal framework that the Member States have to follow, but leave it up to the Member State to choose exactly how to make it part of their law. So once an EU Directive has been agreed, all Member States have an obligation to make national laws that give it effect, but they have a choice as to precisely how to do so. Regulations contain detailed legal rules. Once made, regulations have the force of law in the UK and throughout the EU. Regulations only rarely require the Member States to create their own legal rules in order to ensure the regulation has the desired legal effect.The EU can adopt binding decisions. For example, the Commission has powers to issue decisions that are binding in order to enforce competition rules. Below this, the EU also adopts legislation in order to supplement and amend, or to implement, the rules set out in directives or regulations. Such pieces of legislation are referred to respectively as ‘delegated’ and ‘implementing’ acts.

The EU Budget System

The current EU budget system has a cycle of seven years. The total amount of money available over this period has to be agreed unanimously by all 28 Member States, so the UK, like other Member States, has a veto. The UK has a permanent rebate on its annual contribution (in the form of an upfront reduction to our gross contribution) to the EU budget, unlike any other EU Member State.

Joining and Leaving the EU

European countries can apply to join the EU but the process is complex and lengthy. Each existing EU Member State has a veto over any new country joining, as well as a veto over the pace of negotiations and the terms on which it joins. Any Member State can leave the EU.

Links

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IndexMundi

IndexMundi contains detailed country statistics, charts, and maps compiled from multiple sources. You can explore and analyze thousands of indicators organized by region, country, topic, industry sector, and type.

http://www.indexmundi.com

Examining the UK’s relationship with the EU

Following on from a 2010 election and Coalition Government pledge to ‘repatriate’ EU competences to the UK, in July 2012 the Government launched a Review of the Balance of Competences, which it described as “an audit of what the EU does and how it affects the UK”

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/review-of-the-balance-of-competences

World Trade Organisation (WTO)

The WTO, which was established in 1995, and its predecessor organization the GATT have helped to create a strong and prosperous international trading system. It currently has 162 members. The UK has been a WTO member since 1 January 1995 and a member of GATT since 1 January 1948. All EU member States are WTO members, as is the EU in its own right.

Information about the WTO can be found at
https://www.wto.org/index.htm

Brexit and the World Trade Organization

An article, by Gregory Messenger – a Lecturer in Law at the University of Liverpool, which discusses the consequences from a World Trade Organization (WTO) perspective if the UK were to leave the EU.

http://blog.oup.com/2016/05/brexit-wto-world-trade-organization/

European Commission – Departments and Services

The Commission is divided into several departments and services. The departments are known as Directorate-Generals (DGs). This page has links to the various departments.

http://ec.europa.eu/about/ds_en.htm

Information provided by the EU

The EU is active in a wide range of area, from human rights to transport and trade.

Useful links providing information on these topics can be found at

http://europa.eu/pol/index_en.htm

UK in a Changing Europe

The UK in a Changing Europe initiative is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and based at King’s College London. The Initiative explores the key aspects of UK and EU dynamics. Their website provides a wealth of information exploring numerous issues which may affect how you decide to vote.

http://ukandeu.ac.uk/fact-figures/

They have also produced a useful document, in conjunction with Full Fact the UK’s independent fact checking organisation, to provide impartial information on claims made by both the Remain and Leave campaigns on various topics

Leave/Remain: The Facts behind the claims

Full Fact

Full Fact is the UK’s independent, non-partisan, factchecking charity. It checks claims made by politicians, the media, pressure groups, and other voices in public debate, and pushes for corrections where necessary.

https://fullfact.org

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