Danuta Hübner on Brexit talks: The most difficult is still to come

Written by Martin Banks on 20 December 2017 in News

Polish MEP Danuta Hübner has warned that “there is a long way to go” in the Brexit negotiations.

Danuta Hübner | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

As Chair of constitutional affairs committee, the MEP has taken a leading role in Parliament’s Brexit deliberations.

Her comments come after the UK Prime Minister Theresa May and her Brexit Secretary David Davis told the cabinet on Tuesday that the UK is seeking a “bespoke” post-Brexit deal that is “more ambitious” than the EU-Canada deal (CETA).

Meeting in Downing Street to discuss the end state of Brexit, the cabinet were informed by May that her speeches at Lancaster House and in Florence “set the framework for the overall” future relationship and ruled out the European Economic Area (EEA) model, because it “would be democratically unsustainable.” 


May said she was clear that the objective is a “deal which secures the best possible trading terms with the EU, enables the UK to set rules that are right for our situation, and facilitates ambitious third country trade deals.” She stressed that the UK should be “creative in designing our proposal.”

Speaking in Brussels, Hübner acknowledged that, at last week’s EU summit in Brussels where the two sides reached agreement on the first phase of talks, the British Prime Minister had managed to avoid a no-deal scenario but warned that “the risk remains.”

She went on, “The European Council will unlock the next phase of negotiations, but there is still a long way to go.”

Hübner, who has chaired numerous Brexit meetings and hearings in recent months, added, “We are at the beginning of an arduous, complex and intensive process of drafting the withdrawal agreement with a number of issues of relevance remaining outstanding. We are also ahead of transition negotiations and the future relationship is still to be identified.  The most difficult is yet to come.” 

She said, “The transition period raises many legal issues which will have to be considered with the highest caution. 

“It will have to provide for connection with the future framework foreseeable at that time.”

Hübner told this website, “However, talks on transition will precede the negotiation of the complex future relationship and there is no reason to call it “implementation phase”.     

“But transition is not only about bridging with the future framework. It has its own challenges.”

The British Brexit negotiators have spoken about a “tailor made” deal and, on this, Hübner said, “It is true that there is no time for a bespoke transition agreement to be negotiated, so major part will be the prolongation of the acquis. But it only looks simple. 

“We have to bear in mind that the EU acquis is strongly interdependent in a legally and politically complex way. This is a challenge in itself.

“But there will be also parts of the transition deal going beyond prolongation. This will require a strong, credible, joint oversight mechanism with a strong role of the European Commission on our side.”


About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine


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