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Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Giorgos Katrougalos, attends the EU General Affairs Council (Brussels, 29.01.2018)
The Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Giorgos Katrougalos, attended today’s meeting of the EU General Affairs Council, which gave new directives to the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, for moving to the second phase of the Brexit-related negotiations. Already, following six rounds of negotiations, a gentlemen’s agreement has been reached on the first phase and was set down in the EU-UK Joint Report regarding three key issues: citizens’ rights, financial settlement, and the Ireland-Northern Ireland border.
In the context of the first phase, the United Kingdom made a commitment to respect the rights of the workers and students currently on its territory – an issue Greece strongly insisted on.
The negotiations are already focusing on two key areas: first, the necessary transfer of the political commitments in the EU-UK Joint Report to a legally binding Withdrawal Agreement, and second, the shaping of a framework that will be in effect during the transitional period from the UK’s withdrawal – from 30 March 2019 to 31 December 2020 – until the new final agreement on the future relations between the EU and the UK.
The Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs stressed that time is short, not only because we want to avoid any chance of an agreement’s not being reached, which is the worst scenario, but also because the Brexit talks should be held in tandem with a dialogue on the future of Europe, with the ultimate goal of making post-Brexit Europe more social and more democratic.
Regarding the promotion of national positions, the second round of meetings of the interministerial committee set up by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already begun, with the aim of drawing up specific proposals in the sectors of key interest to Greece (recognition of university degrees and intellectual property rights, protection of Greek shipping and agricultural products, public contract issues, etc.). Moreover, in consultation with the Hellenic Parliament’s European Affairs Committee, briefings have been scheduled to keep MPs, the political parties and the Greek people informed.