The Brexit process: Moving to the second phase of negotiations

20-12-2017

The first phase of Brexit talks between the EU and UK negotiating teams needed six rounds of discussion over seven months. Finally, on Friday 8 December, an agreement in principle on the three priority issues – citizens’ rights, a financial settlement and Northern Ireland – was reached. The European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, endorsed a joint report setting out a common understanding on the future withdrawal agreement. Whilst a number of specific aspects are still under discussion, the European Council decided on 15 December that 'sufficient progress' had been achieved on the first-phase priority issues, and that negotiations could move on to the second phase – on transitional arrangements and the future EU-UK relationship – provided the commitments from the joint report are fully translated into the draft withdrawal agreement. For the transitional period, the European Parliament and the European Council have made clear that all existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures must apply, including the competence of the Court of Justice of the European Union, but with no UK participation in decision-making, since it would no longer be a member of the EU. Exploratory discussions on the framework for the future relationship will begin only after the adoption by the European Council of additional guidelines in March 2018. The UK has still to clarify its position on the type of trade deal it seeks with the EU.

The first phase of Brexit talks between the EU and UK negotiating teams needed six rounds of discussion over seven months. Finally, on Friday 8 December, an agreement in principle on the three priority issues – citizens’ rights, a financial settlement and Northern Ireland – was reached. The European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, endorsed a joint report setting out a common understanding on the future withdrawal agreement. Whilst a number of specific aspects are still under discussion, the European Council decided on 15 December that 'sufficient progress' had been achieved on the first-phase priority issues, and that negotiations could move on to the second phase – on transitional arrangements and the future EU-UK relationship – provided the commitments from the joint report are fully translated into the draft withdrawal agreement. For the transitional period, the European Parliament and the European Council have made clear that all existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures must apply, including the competence of the Court of Justice of the European Union, but with no UK participation in decision-making, since it would no longer be a member of the EU. Exploratory discussions on the framework for the future relationship will begin only after the adoption by the European Council of additional guidelines in March 2018. The UK has still to clarify its position on the type of trade deal it seeks with the EU.