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16 May 2017

  |  CBI Brussels

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EU is set to adopt Brexit Negotiation Directives on 22 May

As the UK is focussed on the elections, the EU will complete procedural steps to open negotiations by adopting official Negotiation Directives next week. The draft Directives will also shed a bit more light into the EU’s position. 

Image of EU is set to adopt Brexit Negotiation Directives on 22 May

The CBI is calling on both sides to secure early agreements on citizens’ rights and transitional arrangements, as well as starting on trade negotiations as soon as possible.

On 22 May the General Affairs Council is expected to adopt the draft Directives, which cover exclusively the exit deal but not the future trading framework.

As with the Council’s guidelines, the main topics are the rights of citizens, the financial settlement and the UK-Irish border.

The EU is keen to guarantee the existing rights of EU citizens living in the UK in the widest sense possible. From their perspective, EU nationals would not only be allowed to stay in the UK, but also be treated equally to UK citizens.

This would include access to the labour market and social security rights, as well as the recognition of diplomas. The draft Directives also stipulate that the ECJ would retain jurisprudence over these rights.

The draft Directives remain silent on the EU’s opening gambit for the size of the financial settlement, but set out the modalities of the settlement.

Then there is the commitment not to undermine the Good Friday Agreement. Chief Commission Negotiator Michel Barnier has repeatedly said he wants to avoid a hard border and respect bilateral Irish-UK agreements, but that this will require flexible legal solutions.

The draft Directives indicate areas where the exit deal should provide legal certainty. For example, goods that are on the market or in service as Brexit takes effect should not be affected and can be traded under the pre-Brexit framework.

Similarly, ongoing judicial cooperation procedures, law enforcement procedures and cases pending before the ECJ should be concluded based on EU rules.

The CBI welcomes that there seems alignment on both sides of the table on a number of issues including the rights of UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK, the need for a smooth and orderly exit, and the importance of the UK-Irish relationship.

Nevertheless, there are some challenges around the process of the negotiation which business will want to see rapid progress on. Whilst the next six months will be crucial, as the EU and the UK head into challenging and unprecedented negotiations, the CBI has called for three early wins.

Firstly, it is of the utmost importance to provide an immediate guarantee of the right to remain for EU citizens in the UK, as well as British nationals in Europe.

Secondly, European businesses would welcome an upfront commitment to transitional arrangements to rule out cliff-edges - in particular, agreement to temporary interim arrangements should no deal be struck.

And thirdly, the CBI believes that discussing new trading arrangements should go hand-in-hand with negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU, so that businesses on both sides have clarity as soon as possible.

The CBI is committed to working closely with partners across Europe to ensure the economic case for a strong UK-EU relationship is heard across Europe.

As outlined in BusinessEurope’s preliminary reaction to the triggering of Article 50, the CBI and its European sister federations stand ready to play a constructive role in the search of solutions to establish a sound and balanced new model for EU-UK relations.

For more information, please contact elsa.venturini@cbi.org.uk

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