Deputy Prime Minister Zaharieva chairs the first GAC Article 50 meeting under the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council


Photo: European Union

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva today chaired the first General Affairs Council meeting in an EU 27 format (GAC Article 50) under the Bulgarian Presidency. The ministers adopted supplementing negotiating directives for the Brexit negotiations, which detail the position of the 27 Member States on a transition period and provide the EU negotiator with a mandate to start discussions on it.

Minister Zaharieva said: "EU ministers have given a clear mandate to the Commission on what is the type of transition period that we envisage: full EU acquis to be applied in the UK and no participation in the EU institutions and decision-making. The 27 adopted the text speedily today and we hope an agreement on this with the UK can also be closed swiftly". 

In particular, Member States agreed that:

  • During the transition period, the whole European Union acquis should continue to apply to the UK. Any changes to the rules adopted during that period should also apply in the UK. That corresponds to the UK's requests for a transition "on current terms". 
  • During the transition period, the UK will no longer participate in the institutions or the decision-making of the EU. 
  • The UK will be expected to comply with EU trade policy during the transition period. This also means that during that period the UK will not be able to conclude its own international agreements in areas covered by EU law, unless it agrees otherwise with the EU. 
  • The transition is to end on 31 December 2020. That date is in line with the UK's request for a transition period of about two years. It is the simplest solution, as it coincides with the end of the current budgetary cycle.

After the Member States adopted the supplementing negotiating directives, the EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier briefed ministers on the state of play of the negotiations with the UK.

After the end of the meeting, Minister Zaharieva and Mr Barnier gave a joint press conference.

All videos and photos are available here.

The full overview of the discussions at the GAC Article 50 meeting is available here.

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