Pittella & Gualtieri on Brexit negotiations: Insufficient progress to begin talks on future relationship

Signposts point in opposite directions to UK and Europe

Following the latest round of negotiations between the EU27 and the United Kingdom on the withdrawal from the European Union, S&D Group president Gianni Pittella and Group negotiator Roberto Gualtieri said:

“The progress made in the fourth round of negotiations is not yet sufficient to move on to talks of our future relationship. We recognise a more positive dynamic and some limited steps forward. However, the message from the Parliament to the Council is clear: unless there is a major breakthrough in line with the Parliament’s position on the UK withdrawal agreement then the EU Council should postpone the decision on whether to begin talks on our future relationship until December.

“The recent more constructive words from Theresa May in Florence have not yet been translated into concrete proposals. We made positive progress on direct effect and work has started on Ireland, but we are still a long way from concluding the first stage of negotiations. This is particularly true for the financial settlement, where the UK has still not given a clear answer to what is a clear question. The settlement must be part of the withdrawal agreement and not linked to our future relationship with the United Kingdom. On this, we want to be direct: you cannot ´buy´ access to the single market through concessions on the financial settlement. A trade-off is not possible - any commitments taken by the 28 member states must be honoured by all of those 28 members. 

“On the very sensitive issue of the Irish border we are all committed to finding the best solution to preserve the Good Friday Agreement. Here again, we  are still waiting for concrete proposals from the British side on how to combine the promise not to set any physical infrastructure on the border with the UK while being outside the Single Market and Customs Union.”

“Last, on citizens´ rights, we want to reiterate the absolute need to incorporate in the withdrawal agreement the full set of rights citizens currently enjoy, be it by EU citizens resident in the UK, British citizens living in the EU27, family members, or those of children born in the future after the UK’s withdrawal. We are greatly concerned by the administrative burdens on EU citizens living in the United Kingdom and examples of discrimination they are facing. We of course also want UK citizens residing in the EU to be treated fairly and in full conformity with EU law.

“Avoiding disruption and anxiety for citizens and business has always been a major concern for the S&D Group and the European Parliament. The proposal for a transitional phase is positive, provided that it is time limited and under existing EU rules - the full application of the four freedoms and under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.”