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UK Absent from Council Meeting

With the Conservative party securing a large majority and the backing to finalise the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, the EU 27 are preparing to begin talks on the future relationship.

The EU Council met last week to discuss the new Green Deal; the EU’s long-term budget (2021-2027) and external relations with Africa, Russia and Turkey, with Council President Charles Michel filling in for the UK in the Prime Minister’s absence. On Friday, leaders touched on Brexit and confirmed their support for Michel Barnier to continue in his role as the EU’s Brexit negotiator, as proposed by the Commission. President Michel stated that the EU is ‘ready for the next phase’ and seeks to negotiate a future trade deal which ‘ensures a true level playing field’. Barnier, meanwhile, has expressed doubts that this negotiation can be achieved in such a short time scale. The clarity in next steps comes as a relief to the EU, as represented by France’s minster for European affairs, Amélie de Montchalin, who stated that the UK election results would come as a comfort to President Macron.

Nonetheless, the EU is still troubled by the UK as it, along with France, blocked the agreement on a taxonomy for what constitutes sustainable finance in the Council, which would provide a better understanding of what assets could be designated as ‘green’ and increase funding for renewable energies. The UK opposed the taxonomy on the grounds that it would prevent investments in nuclear and gas projects from being labelled as green.

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