European Council President
|Jean-Claude Juncker (Luxembourg, European People’s Party (EPP), since November 2014)
Donald Tusk (Poland, EPP, re-elected in March 2017)
Antonio Tajani (Italy, EPP, since January 2017)
|Size||4.325 million km² (11,787 sq mi)|
|Next election||May 2019 (affecting Parliament and Commission)|
|Conversation with Theresa May||None formally, but plenty of comments to the media, as all sides are setting out their stall before formal negotiations begin in earnest.|
|Brexit priorities||The EU institutions have made it clear no negotiations will take place before Article 50 is triggered.
Furthermore the EU will try to find common ground among its Member States and make sure by making look Brexit very unattractive that other countries will not want to follow the UK out of the EU.
It wants to do this by demanding the UK pay a ‘divorce bill’ of around £50 billion and making sure the UK will not be able to negotiate any other free trade agreements with third parties before the UK formally leaves the EU.
|What the Presidents said on Brexit||President Juncker on 21 February 2017
“We need to settle our affairs not with our hearts full of a feeling of hostility, but with the knowledge that the continent owes a lot to the UK.” “Without [Winston] Churchill, we would not be here – we mustn’t forget that, but we mustn’t be naïve. Our British friends need to know – and they know it already – that it will not be cut-price or zero cost.”
President Tajani on 2 March 2017
“The European Parliament will have a central role in deciding the outcome of the negotiations.”
President Tusk on 15 March 2017
“It is our wish to make this process constructive and conducted in an orderly manner. However, the claims increasingly taking the form of threats, that no agreement would be good and bad for the EU needs to be addressed. I want to be clear that a no-deal scenario would be bad for everyone but above all for the U.K. because it would leave a number of issues unresolved.”
President Juncker on 20 March 2017
“Britain’s example will make everyone realise that it’s not worth leaving.” “Half memberships and cherry-picking aren’t possible. In Europe you eat what’s on the table or you don’t sit at the table.”
President Tusk on 21 March 2017
“Therefore, we must do everything we can to make the process of divorce the least painful for the EU.” “Our main priority for the negotiations must be to create as much certainty and clarity as possible for all citizens, companies and member states that will be negatively affected by Brexit, as well as our important partners and friends around the world.”
President Juncker on 23 March 2017
“We are not in a hostile mood when it comes to Brexit because I do think, and I do want, and I do wish to have with Britain in the next decades a friendly relationship … we’ll negotiate in a friendly way, in a fair way and we are not naive.”
President Tusk on 29 March 2017
“There is nothing to win in this process, and I am talking about both sides. In essence, this is about damage control. Our goal is clear: to minimise the costs for the EU citizens, businesses and Member States. We will do everything in our power – and we have all the tools – to achieve this goal.”
President Tajani on 29 March 2017
“Not reaching a deal on the rights of EU citizens means not reaching a deal at all.” “The U.K. will not pay what they had not previously agreed to.” “Unilateral decisions affecting the rights of EU citizens before the U.K. withdraw will be contrary to the treaties, therefore illegal.”
|The EU’s priorities||The EU is keeping an eye on the rising tide of populism and Euroscepticism across the Continent.
Aside from forming other free trade agreements, a big focus will be on negotiating the Brexit deal.
Following an agreement between the EU and Turkey on reducing the amount of refugees reaching the EU’s shores, the focus is now on continuing efforts to address the migration crisis by forging similar deals the northern African countries.
One of the main priorities still is to deal with the Continent’s anaemic growth.
|Who’s in charge?||Very shortly after the Brexit referendum, the three key institutions, Commission, Council and Parliament, began a power struggle as to who would be taking the lead in the upcoming negotiations. The Commission was quick to pre-empt the Council, appointing Commission veteran Michel Barnier to the post, a move that reportedly infuriated the Council. Eventually all three institutions appointed their Chief negotiators, with Didier Seeuws Representing the Council and Liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt representing the Parliament. It is now expected that the Commission and the Council will be playing a key role, once article 50 is triggered, with the Parliament taking a back seat. This has led, predictably, to strong reactions on the side of Verhofstadt, who recently threatened he would negotiate directly with the British, if he does not get a proper seat at the table.|
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