EU-UK talks need to move from aspiration to operation

The Second Joint Committee meeting took place via teleconference

Photo: EU Maroš Šefčovič.

With some six months to go before the end of the transition period, we still have lots of work to do and this is true for all work-streams, but in particular with regard to the Protocol on Ireland/ Northern Ireland, told the press Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič after the EU-UK Joint Committee meeting on the implementation and application of the Withdrawal Agreement, held on Friday via teleconference.

At this second meeting, VP Šefčovič was joined by Michel Barnier, the EC's Chief Negotiator, and representatives of 15 EU countries. From the UK side the meeting was co-chaired by Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove.

Nearly 200 days before the end of the post-Brexit transition period, the UK side confirmed that will not consider an extension of the transition period.

The full and timely implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement is an essential basis for building confidence and mutual trust between the EU and the UK, Vice-President of the Commission urged mentioning that the negotiations on the future relationship are also contingent on the faithful implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement – as set out in the EU's negotiation mandate.

During the discussioin the two parties reflected on the progress made since the last Joint Committee meeting at the end of March and identified remaining difficulties that need to be overcame. The two sides have already launched the work of five of the six Specialised Committees foreseen under the Withdrawal Agreement. These are the citizens' rights, the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland, financial provisions, the Protocol on Gibraltar and the Protocol on the Sovereign Base Areas of the UK in Cyprus.

The window of opportunity to put in place the operational measures needed to ensure that Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland can function as intended on 1 January 2021 is rapidly closing, VP Šefčovič specified that in My the UK government published a Command Paper setting out its approach for fulfilling its obligations under the Protocol. “The publication of this paper was welcomed by the EU side as an important step in reflecting the commitment of the UK authorities, however, this paper does not provide sufficient operational details”, EC VP asserted.

We need to move from aspiration to operation – and fast, he said noting that as of 1 January 2021, the UK will have to meet all the requirements of the Protocol, rigorously and effectively, including all the necessary checks and controls for goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain put in place.

VP Šefčovič recalled that this includes applying EU rules on customs and sanitary and phytosanitary protection and enabling the EU to effectively exercise its right to be present during any activities of the UK authorities related to, amongst other things, the implementation and application of the customs provisions of the Protocol. “The UK should facilitate such a presence and provide EU representatives with the information requested.”

Indicating that 3.1 million EU citizens have already been granted residence status in the UK, the EC Vice-President stressed that at the same time, “we are carefully monitoring the situation of more vulnerable citizens that have difficulties applying digitally”.

Many of these issues will be discussed on Monday, when Ursula von der Leyen, EC President,  Charles Michel, President of the European Council and David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament will hold videoconference call with UK’s PM Boris Johnson.

 

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