Friday 18 August 2017

Q&A: What are the ground rules?

European chief negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier speaks during a news conference in Brussels yesterday. Photo: Reuters
European chief negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier speaks during a news conference in Brussels yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

What is in the recommendation? The European Commission has set out a two-phased approach it believes will allow for an orderly withdrawal of the UK.

Firstly it wants to deal with citizens' rights, the amount the UK must pay the EU before leaving and issues around Ireland. After agreement is reached on those, attention will turn to the future relationship between the EU and UK.

It's over a month since Article 50 was triggered. When will the negotiations actually start?

Things have been slightly complicated by the general election in the UK. The EU's General Affairs Council will meet on May 22 to adopt the draft negotiating directives and to authorise the opening of negotiations. The first formal meeting between the EU and British negotiators is likely to be in June.

Will it all happen behind closed doors?

The heavy work will be done in private meetings but the commission has said its aim will be "to ensure full transparency so as to allow for informed public debate". It is understood the UK is keen for a more secretive approach. The negotiations will be based on the principle nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

Do other EU countries care about Anglo-Irish relations?

So far there has been plenty of references to Ireland but it remains to be seen if words are turned into actions. Michel Barnier has said he will pay "great attention" to Ireland's case. The Irish Government has used the protection of the Good Friday Agreement as leverage and the EU has committed to finding "innovative and creative solutions in order to avoid a hard Border on the island of Ireland".

Will EU citizens living in the UK have to leave?

Brexit has created great uncertainty for EU citizens in the UK, and also UK citizens in other EU countries. The commission says its first priority in the Article 50 negotiations is to give them certainty. In this respect, the EU will seek to guarantee the rights of both EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU, as well as their families (regardless of nationality). This includes rights that will only enter into effect in the future, such as pensions.

Why does the UK have to pay an exit bill?

During the time of its membership, the UK has taken on financial commitments. The EU insists these must be honoured in full. The "single financial settlement" refers to the one-off payment being sought.

Irish Independent

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