BRUSSELS: European Union leaders have unanimously agreed to adopt a “firm” negotiating approach for Brexit talks with the UK. On Saturday the heads of the remaining 27 states approved within a minute the draft guidlines issued by European Council President Donald Tusk on 31 March. Tusk tweeted that the mandate agreed by the 27 country leaders was also “fair”.
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) April 29, 2017
Talks with the UK will begin after the General Election on June 8. The negotiations must be completed by the deadline March 29 2019. In his pre-summit comments Tusk said resolving uncertainty around citizens’ rights was the EU and UK’s “number one priority”. In regard to the financial settlement, the final guidelines provide more detail on the “obligations and liabilities” the UK will be asked to cover. It lists issues resulting from the MFF (the EU’s long term spending plan) as well as “those related to the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Development Fund (EDF) and the European Central Bank (ECB)”. The paragraph listing the other areas of potential future co-operation, aside from trade, has added “foreign policy” to security, defence and the fight against terrorism and international crime.
A paragraph has also been inserted stressing that any future UK-EU relationship should “safeguard financial stability in the Union and respect its regulatory and supervisory regime and standards and their application”. In recent weeks debate has flared around whether a free trade deal would include the financial services industry and, if it did, whether City of London institutions would still be bound by Brussels oversight. The paragraph on the Irish border has made clear the EU’s support of the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement. Some structures agreed in what is an international accord between the UK and Republic of Ireland were based on EU law and the UK will now face pressure to ensure post-Brexit laws in Northern Ireland do not undermine the terms of the peace deal. One of the more controversial elements of Tusk’s draft guidelines in March was a suggested veto for Spain on any future UK/EU agreements that involved Gibraltar. There has been no change to the wording of that paragraph.