On Wednesday last week, the commission published its fifth Brexit Preparedness Communication ahead of the June European Council.
The communication assesses preparedness of the EU in preparation for Brexit, and reiterates the obligations of the UK.
The communication says that given continued uncertainty over UK ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, a no deal Brexit “very much remains a possible, although undesirable, outcome”. It also highlights that a no-deal scenario would cause a serious negative economic impact in the UK. It stresses that the UK would be obliged to address the issue of citizens’ rights, honour its financial commitments and preserve the Good Friday Agreement before any future relationship could be discussed. On the EU side, the EU27 have set up new Border Inspection Posts (BIPs), which will be required for entry of imports from the UK. The communication also urges all stakeholders to make sure they have taken necessary measures to prepare for Brexit. Although not included the European Council agenda for 20-21 June Brexit is expected to be included as an information point at the end of the meeting. In their conclusions from the April council meeting, EU 27 leaders agreed to review the situation in June. However as there have been no developments on Brexit in the UK this is now not a priority item.
EU Budget 2021-2027
EU heads of state will meet at the end of the week to discuss a range of issues including the future EU Budget 2021-2027. Officially known as the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the commission presented its proposals for a new budget in the summer last year. The Brussels institutions have been working on the detail and last week the Budget Commissioner Oettinger stressed the need for the heads of state to finalise their position this autumn. Emphasising that the budget should start delivering for the EU from 1st January 2021, the commissioner highlighted how delays in the Brussels process can have real consequences in terms of funding of programmes on the ground. Although progress has been made on a number of the sectoral programmes, the CAP is one of seven areas where neither the Parliament nor the member states have progressed discussions. The CAP 2014-2020 accounts for 38% of the EU budget and has traditionally been one of the most difficult budget topics to negotiate and agree.
The paperwork from the commission says that Brexit uncertainty does not mean important decisions on the future budget should be deferred. It argues that it is even more important ‘that the union moves forward on its positive agenda with confidence and optimism’. It is being reported that Commissioner Oettinger also responded to some questions on Brexit in a press conference reiterating that Theresa May’s government accepted to pay €39 billion into the budget on leaving and that future good relationships between the UK and the EU should be a priority for the next UK prime minister.