EU delivered best possible Brexit compromise - President

Brexit – Statement by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, on leaving the extraordinary meeting of the European Council¹

Brussels, 11 April 2019

We delivered the best possible compromise, first because it was the one to preserve the unity of the 27; second because we addressed the request from the UK to get more time to deliver a deal on the basis of the withdrawal agreement; and, third, we fixed the deal and all the consequences before 1 November, which will be the arrival of the new Commission. So for me this is a good solution.

¹M. Macron spoke in English. Source: BBC Radio 4.

Brexit – Statement by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, on his arrival at the extraordinary European Council

Brussels, 10 April 2019

We’re going to meet today for an extraordinary European Council, which requires us to continue very calmly, with great determination and composure, with the situation we’ve been experiencing for months. Personally, I’m approaching this extraordinary Council with a few simple principles. The first principle is that we have a European project. It’s 34 months since the British referendum was held, and the key for us is that the European project should be maintained in terms of its coherence and should carry on. In the past 34 months, we’ve continued taking issues forward, making decisions and, above all, remaining united, collectively. And I think this unity is important, but the viability and unity of the European project are still at stake. And what’s essential is that nothing should jeopardize the European project in the coming months. We have a European renaissance to carry out. I believe in it very strongly, and I wouldn’t like the Brexit issue to obstruct us on this point.

The second principle, which in my view is key for us all, is to respect democratic choices. The British people decided to leave the European Union. I regret that choice, it’s not the one I myself championed, but it’s not for us to dispute it, go back on it or do everything to ensure it’s not implemented. That democratic respect must govern our decisions.

And finally, the third principle is about clarity; the time for decisions is now. We spent two years negotiating a withdrawal agreement. A great deal of time was given, decisions must now be reached. So I’m very much looking forward to listening to Theresa May, but for me, nothing is a foregone conclusion. Nothing. And in particular, when I hear the rumours, no long extension. We’ve got to understand today the reason for this request, what the political project justifying it is and what the clear proposals are. But I’m personally sticking to the principle I’ve just set out: clarity, the unity of the European project and respect for the British decision. And so at this stage, in my opinion, nothing is a foregone conclusion./.

European Union – Statement by Mme Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, on her arrival at the General Affairs Council¹

Luxembourg, 9 April 2019

THE MINISTER – The United Kingdom has asked for an extension and the European Council will have to decide on that request tomorrow; France’s position hasn’t changed. We believe this request is neither a foregone conclusion nor automatic and that it’s extremely important for the request to be accompanied by a credible political plan that explains what will happen during that requested extenson. The question also arises of the role the UK wants to play in the European institutions during this period. The question also arises of the date of 30 June: we don’t really understand what would be the future of the MEPs who would emerge from those British elections if they’re held, if they’re not going to take their seats.

In any case, what’s clear is that there will be no other withdrawal agreement than the one negotiated between the Europeans and the UK. We’re seeking, above all else, to leave tomorrow with a decision enabling us to make progress on the European project and preserve its content and ambition. We know, along with our partners, that the European project’s ambition is indeed to move forward: we’re going to discuss all that soon.

Q. – Do the 27 speak with one voice?

THE MINISTER – The 27 speak with one voice; they spoke with one voice during the last Council, on 21 and 22 March, and tomorrow we’ve got to continue speaking collectively, with a voice which also has to safeguard the ambition of the European project and its smooth operation, with a concern for protecting European citizens.

Q. – What do you want to have Britain saying? Theresa May said that she would have sincere cooperation with the EU if they are given this extension. What specific conditions does France want Britain to agree to in order to have this extension?

THE MINISTER – There are two levels of discussion: the first is on the sense. What is the political and credible backing of this extension demand? We understand there is a law voted yesterday night, we want to understand what the UK needs this extension for and what is the political surroundings around Theresa May to have this extension. And then comes the question of the conditions: what role wants the UK to play during this extension time, how does it want to decide and on what type of decisions it wants to play a role. And we have to understand how we can, on our side, on the European side, continue to have a European project that is ambitious, that has reforms undergoing and how we keep going on serving the interest of the European citizens.

Q. – Is Chancellor Merkel good cop and President Macron bad cop?

THE MINISTER – I am not sure we can describe the European Union in such terms. Theresa May is going to Berlin, she is going to Paris and we are going now to have a long discussion./.

¹Mme de Montchalin spoke in French and English.

Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs’ Spokesperson (excerpt)

Paris, 9 April 2019

European Union – Participation by Mme Amélie de Montchalin in the General Affairs Council (Luxembourg, 9 April 2019)

Mme Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs, will participate in the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 9 April.

The Council will begin by meeting in the so-called Article 50 format, i.e. as 27 members, to discuss the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. Michel Barnier will present to ministers his analysis of the situation since the European Council of 21 March and ahead of the extraordinary European Council meeting of 10 April. On 5 April, the British Prime Minister made another request to extend the negotiation period until 30 June 2019. The Minister of State will recall that a further extension is neither a foregone conclusion nor automatic, and that it will have to be looked at by the heads of state and government on the basis of two main criteria: firstly, the UK’s presentation of a credible alternative plan, and secondly, safeguarding of the EU’s interests. The Minister of State will also recall that France is prepared for a scenario in which the UK leaves with no deal.

As 28 members, the ministers’ work will focus on the following main points:

- multiannual financial framework 2021-2027: Mme Amélie de Montchalin will reiterate our commitment to the Common Agricultural Policy, in particular our determination to see the budget for this maintained at its current level among the 27. She will stress the importance of the cohesion policy.

- Sustainable Development Goals: France will support conclusions reflecting the EU’s high degree of ambition to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into European and national policies.

- Rule of law: the Council will make an assessment of the situation in Hungary and Poland under the procedure set out in Article 7, paragraph 1, of the Treaty on European Union. France and Germany will jointly recall their concern for the rule of law and respect in those two countries for the EU’s basic values. The Minister of State will ask for dialogue on those two countries to continue within the Council, including in the form of a first hearing for Hungary and a fourth hearing session for Poland.

Published on 16/04/2019

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