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2017/2593(RSP) - 05/04/2017 Text adopted by Parliament, single reading

The European Parliament adopted by 516 votes to 133, with 50 abstentions, a resolution on negotiations with the United Kingdom following its notification that it intends to withdraw from the European Union.

The text adopted in plenary was tabled by the EPP, S&D, ALDE, GUE/NGL, Greens/EFA groups and the Committee on Constitutional Affairs.

Parliament took note of the notification by the United Kingdom Government to the European Council which begins the process by which the United Kingdom will cease to be a Member State of the European Union and the Treaties will no longer apply to it.

It called for the negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom to begin as soon as possible. It reiterated the importance of the withdrawal agreement and any possible transitional arrangement(s) entering into force well before the elections to the European Parliament of May 2019. It equally recalled that the withdrawal agreement can only be concluded with the consent of the European Parliament.

Withdrawal agreement: Parliament stressed the need to ensure the fair treatment of EU-27 citizens living or having lived in the United Kingdom and of United Kingdom citizens living or having lived in the EU-27. It called for the status and rights of EU-27 citizens residing in the United Kingdom and of United Kingdom citizens residing in the EU-27 be subject to the principles of reciprocity, equity, symmetry and non-discrimination.

In addition, Members stressed that a single financial settlement with the United Kingdom must include all its legal liabilities arising from outstanding commitments as well as making provision for off-balance sheet items, contingent liabilities and other financial costs arising directly as a result of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal.

The agreement should also address the following elements: the clarification of the status of the United Kingdom’s international commitments undertaken as a Member State of the European Union; legal certainty for legal entities, including companies; the designation of the Court of Justice of the European Union as the competent authority for the interpretation and enforcement of the withdrawal agreement.

Members insisted on the importance of mitigating the effects of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland and on the absolute need to ensure continuity and stability of the Northern Ireland peace process.

Future European Union-United Kingdom relationship: according to Parliament, the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom should be balanced and cover areas of common interest while respecting the integrity of the European Union’s legal order. The negotiations cannot involve any trade-off between internal and external security including defence cooperation and the future economic relationship.

Any future agreement is conditional on the United Kingdom’s continued adherence to the standards provided by international obligations, in the fields of the environment, climate change, the fight against tax evasion and avoidance, fair competition, trade and social rights, especially safeguards against social dumping.

Moreover, Members opposed any future agreement providing United Kingdom-based undertakings with preferential access to the internal market and/or the customs union. After its withdrawal, the United Kingdom will fall under the third-country regime provided for in Union legislation.

General principles for the negotiations: Members called for the negotiations to be conducted in good faith and full transparency. The United Kingdom will continue to enjoy its rights as a Member State of the European Union until the withdrawal agreement comes into force. It must honour all its legal, financial and budgetary obligations falling due up to and after the date of its withdrawal.

Members recalled that it would be contrary to Union law for the United Kingdom to begin, in advance of its withdrawal, negotiations on possible trade agreements with third countries. They also warned that any bilateral arrangement between one or several remaining Member States and the United Kingdom, in the areas of European Union competence, that has not been agreed by the EU-27, relating to issues included in the scope of the withdrawal agreement, would also be in contradiction with the Treaties.

Members reaffirmed that membership of the internal market and the customs union entails acceptance of the four freedoms and the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union. While regretting the decision by the United Kingdom not to participate in the internal market, the European Economic Area or the customs union, they considered that a state withdrawing from the Union cannot enjoy similar benefits to those enjoyed by a Union Member State.

Lastly, the resolution stated that the discussions on the transitional arrangements can only begin once substantial progress has been made towards a withdrawal agreement. These arrangements may not exceed three years, while agreement on a future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom as a third country can only be concluded once the United Kingdom has withdrawn from the European Union.