On 5 February, the European Parliament held its first meeting of the EU-UK Coordination group (UKCG). The group, under the chairmanship of David McAllister MEP, met with Michel Barnier – the now European Commission Head of Task Force Relations with the UK – and has subsequently issued a motion for resolution on the proposed mandate for negotiations for a new partnership with the UK.
During the UKCG meeting, which was held privately (‘in camera’), the MEPs discussed the content of their resolution with Michel Barnier in preparation for its vote in this week’s plenary session in Strasbourg. Following the meeting, McAllister made clear that the European Parliament’s key priorities are not only trade relations but also security, internal security, external security and a good governance structure. He also confirmed that the Commission, through Michel Barnier, will brief the UKCG before and after each round of negotiations so that the Parliament is informed in an orderly manner at every stage of the upcoming negotiations.
The resolution itself has outlined the more maximalist position MEPs are adopting, stating that the UK should commit to (i) a level playing field with provisions on competition and state aid; (ii) full respect of social and labour standards; (iii) environmental protection and the promotion of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals; (iv) a high-level protection of consumers and sustainable development; (v) higher, not lower standards; (vi) anti-dumping and countervailing measures that go beyond WTO rules; (vii) measures to combat the gender pay gap; (viii) streamlined customs procedures with regard to SME market access facilitation; (ix) provisions to ensure continued regulatory alignment and (x) full compliance with, and without prejudice to, the EU’s current and future data protection and privacy rules, amongst others, in order to maintain free trade with the EU.
In sum, the resolution makes a formidable list of requirements, throughout 103 articles, detailing the policies MEPs would like the UK to meet or continue adhering to following the conclusion of the transition period. This ambition is unlikely to be matched accordingly by the UK government nor be all addressed within ten months.
UK audiences should note that this group has been comprised to represent EU interests. While the EU intends to remain friendly and fair the UK, MEPs are urging the EU’s negotiating team to: ‘do its utmost in its negotiations with the UK to guarantee the EU’s interests’ and ‘make sure that at all times the EU’s leverage is preserved and that unity is ensured’. Similarly, Member States are reminded that the Commission is the EU’s sole negotiator – this should also be interpreted as a warning to any members of the UK government that are under the misapprehension that the EU is approaching negotiations from a UK-centric point of view or that they may bypass the Commission and influence Member States directly.
To access the draft resolution, please click here.
Cover picture ©European Union 2020