Navigation path

Left navigation

Additional tools

Other available languages: none

European Commission - Statement

Press statement by Michel Barnier following the General Affairs Council (Article 50)

Brussels, 18 September 2018

Many thanks, Gernot, and good evening to all of you.

Thanks to Gernot and to the Austrian presidency for their trust and for having voiced the trust of the 27 governments that were represented around the table today.

The Ministers confirmed the unity we are working for every day through transparency, through availability, and by addressing the concerns that are not always the same in each of the Member States. In my team we take account of all these sensitivities, as we do with the European Parliament.

We are in the last stage of these negotiations.

Since the last General Affairs Council meeting on 20 July we have progressed in some areas of the separation, the orderly withdrawal. These areas include Euratom, ongoing judicial cooperation procedures and the protection of personal data exchanged before the end of the transition.

But we still need to reach an agreement on two important issues:

-  The governance of the withdrawal agreement, which must be credible if the agreement itself is to be solid.

-  The 3 000 geographical indications that are currently protected in the 28 countries of the Union, from Scotch whisky to Polish vodka and Greek feta. Brexit cannot and must not lead to any loss of the intellectual property rights that are linked to these geographical indications.

We must also make decisive progress on the issue of Ireland.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our proposal for the backstop on Ireland and Northern Ireland has been on the table since February.

It is an insurance policy to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, whatever the future relationship will bring.

It reflects our agreement with the UK in December 2017, confirmed by Prime Minister Theresa May in her letter to President Tusk in March.

We are ready to improve this proposal.

Work on the EU side is ongoing:

-  We are clarifying which goods arriving into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK would need to be checked and where, when and by whom these checks could be performed.

-  We can also clarify that most checks can take place away from the border, at the company premises or in the market.

-  We need to de-dramatise the checks that are needed and that are caused by the UK's decision to leave the EU, its Single Market and customs union.

What we need in the Withdrawal Agreement is a legally operational backstop, which fully respects the territorial integrity of the UK.

This backstop will only apply unless and until a better solution is found, in the context of our future relationship.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As Gernot said, the European Council will meet in Salzburg tomorrow and the next day and at the invitation of President Tusk and alongside President Juncker, I will report on the state of play of the negotiations to the 27 Heads of State or Government.

In this respect, I would like to thank the Ministers who spoke today, reiterating their unqualified solidarity with regard to Ireland in particular. This solidarity is also shared by all the European institutions and in particular the European Parliament.

As I have always said, the October European Council will be the moment of truth. That will be the moment when we will see if an agreement is within our reach, as I hope and as we are working for.

***

AS DELIVERED

***

Merci à Gernot et à la Présidence autrichienne de sa confiance et d'avoir ainsi exprimé la confiance des 27 gouvernements qui étaient représentés aujourd'hui autour de la table.

Les Ministres ont confirmé l'unité à laquelle nous travaillons quotidiennement, par de la transparence, par de la disponibilité, par de l'attention aussi aux préoccupations qui ne sont pas toujours les mêmes dans chacun des Etats membres. Nous prenons en compte avec mon équipe l'ensemble de ces sensibilités, comme nous le faisons avec le Parlement européen.

Nous sommes dans la dernière ligne droite de cette négociation.

Depuis la dernière réunion du Conseil des affaires générales le 20 juillet, nous avons progressé sur certains sujets de la séparation, du retrait ordonné, comme Euratom, les procédures de coopération judiciaire en cours ou encore la protection des données personnelles échangées avant la fin de la transition.

Mais nous devons encore trouver un accord sur deux chapitres importants :

  • La gouvernance de l'accord de retrait, qui doit être crédible pour que l'accord lui-même soit solide.
  • Les 3000 indications géographiques actuellement protégées dans les 28 pays de l'Union, du Scotch whisky à la vodka polonaise ou à la feta grecque. Le Brexit ne peut pas, ne doit pas conduire à une perte des droits de propriété intellectuelle qui s'attachent à ces indications géographiques.

Nous devons aussi avancer maintenant de manière décisive sur la question irlandaise.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our proposal for the backstop on Ireland and Northern Ireland has been on the table since February.

It is an insurance policy to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, whatever the future relationship will bring.

It reflects our agreement with the UK in December 2017, confirmed by Prime Minister Theresa May in her letter to President Tusk in March.

We are ready to improve this proposal.

Work on the EU side is ongoing:

  • We are clarifying which goods arriving into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK would need to be checked and where, when and by whom these checks could be performed.
  • We can also clarify that most checks can take place away from the border, at the company premises or in the market.
  • We need to de-dramatise the checks that are needed and that are caused by the UK's decision to leave the EU, its Single Market and customs union.

What we need in the Withdrawal Agreement is a legally operational backstop, which fully respects the territorial integrity of the UK.

This backstop will only apply unless and until a better solution is found, in the context of our future relationship.

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Comme l'a dit Gernot, le Conseil européen se réunit à Salzburg demain et après-demain, et je ferai, à l'invitation du Président Tusk et aux côtés du Président Juncker, l'état des lieux des négociations aux chefs d'Etat et de gouvernement des 27.

Dans cette perspective, je voudrais remercier les ministres qui se sont exprimés aujourd'hui, en affirmant une nouvelle fois leur solidarité sans faille vis-à-vis de l'Irlande, en particulier. Cette solidarité est aussi partagée par toutes les institutions européennes, et notamment le Parlement européen.

Comme je l'ai toujours dit, le Conseil européen d'octobre sera le moment de vérité. C'est le moment où nous verrons si un accord est à notre portée, comme je l'espère et comme nous y travaillons.

Merci pour votre attention.

STATEMENT/18/5829


Side Bar