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Remarks by Chief Negotiator Barnier at the press conference 17 October 2019

Remarks by Chief Negotiator Barnier at the press conference on the EC Recommendation to the European Council to endorse the agreement reached on the revised Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and revised Political Declaration.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today we have reached an agreement with the UK government on the orderly withdrawal from the UK and the framework for our future relationship.

It is the result of intensive work by the two teams of negotiators , the British team and our own team, whom I personally wish to thank for their tenacity and professionalism, but also, on the European side, for a permanent dialogue with the 27 Member States and the European Parliament, with whom we have actually co-built this new agreement.

This agreement is approved by the negotiators. With President Juncker, who concluded this morning with Prime Minister Johnson, we will present him later to the European Council at 27 . I also want to thank President Tusk for his confidence throughout these three years.

This text, ladies and gentlemen, provides legal certainty and certainty where Brexit creates uncertainty , in particular and first for:

  • The citizens Europeans in the UK and the British in an EU member state. They have always been, and will remain, our priority, that of the Member States and the European Parliament. The uncertainty for these citizens has lasted too long. Thanks to this agreement, their rights will finally be guaranteed over time.
  • The promoters of projects financed by the budget of the European Union, in the 27 Member States and in the United Kingdom since, thanks to this agreement, the financial commitments already taken to 28 will be honored at 28.
  • All persons and companies concerned by all other issues of separation , such as Euratom, the protection of existing intellectual property rights, the protection of geographical indications or the protection of personal data.
  • This proposal also includes the transitional period , which was requested by the UK government and will run until the end of 2020 - 14 months - and maybe one or two years longer in the event of a UK joint agreement. and the European Union.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The United Kingdom has the following point of view with regard to the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Throughout these negotiations, the EU and the UK were fully committed to protecting peace and stability on the island of Ireland .

We had to reconcile two objectives:

First, include a legally operative solution withdrawal Agreement that would:

  • Avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland;
  • Preserve the all-island economy;
  • Protect the integrity of the Single Market.

Secondly, it is extremely important to Prime Minister Johnson and the UK that Northern Ireland remains in the UK's customs territory.

Discussions have been difficult.

But we have delivered. Together.

The solution that we found on the four main elements

1 / First, Northern Ireland will remain aligned to a limited set of EU rules, particularly related to goods .

  • This means that all of the procedures will be taken into account in Northern Ireland and not across the island.
  • For the purpose, UK authorities will be in charge of applying the Union Customs Code in Northern Ireland.

2 / Secondly, beyond applicable procedures, there is also the question of customs duties .

  • Northern Ireland will remain in the UK's customs territory. It will be beneficial from the UK's future trade policy.
  • But Northern Ireland will also remain an entry point to our Single Market.

So what have we done to square this circle?

  • UK can apply autorités UK tariffs on products coming from third countries, so long as Those goods Reviews entering Northern Ireland are not at risk of Reviews entering our Single Market .
  • However, for goods at risk of entering the Single Market, UK authorities will apply the EU's tariffs.

3 / Third, this night and this morning still, we were working on the issue of VAT .

It is an important subject to avoid distortion of competition within the Single Market for goods.

We also managed to achieve two objectives:

  • Maintain the integrity of the Single Market
  • But also satisfy the UK's legitimate wishes.

4 / Finally, Prime Minister Johnson and the Taoiseach for the United Kingdom.

  • Four years after the entry into force of the Protocol, the elected representatives of Northern Ireland will be able to decide, by simple majority, whether to continue

This democratic support is a cornerstone of our newly agreed approach.


Because this newly agreed protocol is between the EU and the UK.  So it makes sense to ensure consent.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Obviously, when discussing Northern Ireland, we talk about the economy, about technical matters, about goods. But for me, since 3 years, what really matters are the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland.

What really matters is peace .

Ladies and gentlemen,

Finally, beyond this separation and the withdrawal agreement, we have reached an agreement to revise the political declaration , which will have to be adopted by the European Council and which will be the framework for rebuilding an ambitious partnership with the United Kingdom. , friendly country, partner country and allied country.

On this point, the government of Boris Johnson made the clear choice of a free trade agreement .

Any reference to other options, including the option of creating a single customs territory between us, has therefore been eliminated .

What does not change, however, is our geographic proximity and our interdependence with the UK economy , and we have agreed to have strong level playing field guarantees to allow for a free trade agreement. ambitious exchange without tariffs or quotas.

On this point, I can testify, for having often spoken with them, that the Member States, the European Parliament and the single market companies are extremely attentive to the existence of a common base on the standards applicable at the end of the year. transition in terms of social rights, environmental protection, state aid and tax issues.

In total, the level of ambition of our future free trade agreement will be proportional to the level and quality of the rules of the economic game between us .

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is the agreement we reached at the end of these intense days of negotiations. The legal text is now available.

On this basis, the assessment we will present shortly with President Juncker at the European Council is that we have together achieved a fair and reasonable result, which corresponds to our principles .

On the European side, it is now up to the European Council to assess the content of this agreement. And then to the Council to approve it, just like the European Parliament, which I want to thank for its confidence and who will have the last word.

We will continue this process today, in dialogue and respect for our institutions .

Today we have a fair and reasonable basis - fair and reasonable - for an orderly withdrawal from the United Kingdom and, above all, to begin - we wish it as soon as possible, as from 1 November - to work on a new partnership with the Kingdom. – United.

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