The Council of the EU has published a statement following an informal meeting between the Heads of State or Government of 27 Member States, as well as the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission.
The annex to the statement sets out certain procedural arrangements that the informal meeting endorsed. These are as follows:
- the first step following the notification by the United Kingdom will be the adoption by the European Council of guidelines that will define the framework for negotiations under Article 50 Treaty on European Union and set out the overall positions and principles that the EU will pursue throughout the negotiation. The European Council will remain permanently seized of the matter, and will update these guidelines in the course of the negotiations as necessary;
- after the adoption of the guidelines, the European Council will invite the General Affairs Council to proceed swiftly with the adoption of the decision authorising the opening of the negotiations, following a recommendation by the European Commission (Commission), and to deal with the subsequent steps in the process. The Council of the EU (Council) will also adopt negotiating directives on substance as well as on the detailed arrangements governing the relationship between the Council and its preparatory bodies on the one hand and the Union negotiator on the other. These negotiating directives may be amended and supplemented as necessary throughout the negotiations, to reflect the European Council guidelines as they evolve;
- the Council will be invited to nominate the Commission as the Union negotiator. The Commission’s nomination of Michel Barnier as chief negotiator is welcome. To ensure transparency and build trust, the Union negotiator’s team will be ready to integrate a representative of the rotating Presidency of the Council. Representatives of the President of the European Council will be present and participate, in a supporting role, in all negotiation sessions, alongside the Commission’s representatives. The Union negotiator will systematically report to the European Council, the Council and its preparatory bodies;
- between the meetings of the European Council, the Council and COREPER, assisted by a dedicated Working Party with a permanent chair, will ensure that the negotiations are conducted in line with the European Council guidelines and the Council negotiating directives, and provide guidance to the Union negotiator;
- the members of the European Council, the Council and its preparatory bodies representing the United Kingdom will not participate in the discussions or in the decisions concerning it;
- representatives of the 27 Heads of State or Government will be involved in the preparation of the European Council as necessary. Representatives of the European Parliament will be invited at such preparatory meetings; and
- the Union negotiator will be invited to keep the European Parliament closely and regularly informed throughout the negotiation. The Presidency of the Council will be prepared to inform and exchange views with the European Parliament before and after each meeting of the General Affairs Council. The President of the European Parliament will be invited to be heard at the beginning of meetings of the European Council.