THE EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said it was ‘realistic’ to believe that a Brexit deal between the UK and EU could be hammered out within the next two months, with an Extraordinary ‘Brexit Summit’ foreseen in mid-November.
Speaking to reporters in the margins of the Bled Strategic Forum in Slovenia on September 10th, the French politician said, ‘if we are realistic, we are able to reach an agreement on the first stage of the negotiation, which is the Brexit treaty, within six or eight weeks,’ which immediately prompted a jump in sterling.
‘The treaty is clear, we have two years to reach an agreement before they (the UK) leave in March 2019 … that means that taking into account the time necessary for the ratification process in the House of Commons on one side, the EP and Council on the other, we must reach an agreement before the beginning of November. I think it is possible,’ the former Commissioner for the Internal Market outlined.
EU heads of state and government were due to discuss the state of play on Brexit when they met for an Informal Summit in the Austrian city of Salzburg on September 20th. The date of the Extraordinary gathering – possibly on November 13th – should also be confirmed at the Austrian meeting.
EU leaders are expected to finalise details on how to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland at next month’s Council (October 18th), paving the way for a broader political declaration on a future deal on trade etc. the following month.
EU Agriculture Ministers will meet again in Vienna from September 23rd to 25th where the future design of the CAP, with a particular focus on fostering vibrant rural communities and high-quality food production, is at the top of the agenda. Hailing from a country where half of all agricultural land (over 2.6 million hectares) is located in mountain areas, Minister Elisabeth Köstinger is keen to push investment in the viability of rural areas as a ‘key policy priority.’
As for the reform of the CAP, talks should kick off in earnest in the second half of 2018, but with EP elections around the corner in May 2019 (23rd to 26th) and a new Commission College in place in November 2019, there is not much hope of a deal on the horizon.
So it looks set to be an interesting term ahead!
• Rose O’Donovan is Editor-in-Chief of the Brussels based publication AGRA FACTS & has been following the evolution of European farm policy for over 10 years.