Barnier to host Brexit seminar with senior national officials next week

31 January 2017 9:55am

First published on the MLex Brexit Service 22 November 2016. By Simon Taylor.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s top Brexit negotiator, has called a meeting next week of senior officials from national governments and the European Parliament to discuss upcoming talks over the terms of the UK’s departure from the bloc.

The meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 29, and is understood to be a technical seminar lasting half a day. It’s the first meeting of its kind since the UK voted to leave the EU in a referendum on June 23.

Barnier has invited EU leaders’ top diplomatic advisers — referred to as “sherpas” — to the meeting but it’s not clear whether they will attend, given the short notice. Officials from the UK are not among those invited to the meeting.

Each national government can send up to three officials to the meeting which will also include representatives of the European Parliament and the the secretariat of the Council of the European Union — the institution which represents national governments in Brussels.

The aim of the seminar is to map out the issues at stake in the negotiations on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. It will provide a forum for discussion for issues related to Brexit.

MLex understands that Barnier wants to divide the discussions into three “baskets”: The negotiations and the timing; the EU budget and transitional arrangements; and future relations.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, appointed Barnier to lead its Brexit negotiations on behalf of the EU in September this year.

Barnier, a former European commissioner and French foreign minister, met David Davis, the UK minister for Brexit, in Brussels yesterday. The Frenchman has been on a tour of national capitals to hear about the priorities and concerns of the 27 national governments in the Brexit negotiations.

The negotiations on Brexit are expected to start in May or June next year, provided UK Prime Minister Theresa May triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which sets out how a member state can leave the union.

Once Article 50 has been invoked, the UK will leave the EU two years later, whether or not it has agreed departure terms with the remaining 27 national governments.

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