PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ELECTORAL MANIFESTO: Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech chairs the first General Affairs Council meeting on Brexit negotiations

Concluding the unprecedented General Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg, which focused on Article 50, Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech referred to the remarkable sense of unity in the discussion on the draft guidelines for the Brexit negotiations. The next step is for EU leaders to adopt these guidelines at the European Council meeting this Saturday in Brussels.

Deputy Prime Minister Grech, who was chairing today’s Council, stated that the guidelines define the overall framework, and are the basis for the negotiating directives under Article 50. He welcomed the consensus and added that: A key objective of the guidelines is achieving a fair and equitable result for all Member States. Negotiations will be conducted in the spirit of unity and trust among the EU27.

The core principle remains that of safeguarding the integrity of the Single Market, and achieving a balance of rights and obligations. He further added that negotiations will be carried out as a single package, through a single channel of communication. The phased approach will provide orderly withdrawal, as well as clarity and legal certainty. It is in our mutual interest to avoid any uncertainties this may cause to our citizens, businesses and economies.

Deputy Prime Minister Grech explained that key priorities at this stage are issues pertaining to citizens’ rights, the financial settlement, and border matters.

Following the adoption of the guidelines this Saturday, the Council will then proceed with the adoption of the decision authorising the opening of the negotiations. The role of Malta as rotating Presidency is important, and we will seek to ensure the proper co-ordination amongst institutions.

Deputy Prime Minister Grech stated that admittedly, Brexit negotiations are a highly complex issue; however, the Union should not be derailed from getting on with its work, its strategic agenda for the benefit of its citizens.

Today’s General Affairs Council meeting was the first Council meeting at the level of 27 Member States, in the framework set out by Article 50 of the Treaty. The General Affairs Council is the only council formation that will be dealing with Article 50, and will be meeting regularly at each important juncture of the negotiations.

Source: Government of Malta