This post was first published on our Brexit Notes blog. 

Today, the European Council authorised the opening of the negotiations and negotiating directives on the future relationship with the UK. The latter sets out the mandate for the future negotiations for the European Commission in its role as Union negotiator and covers all areas to be covered in the negotiations (including, amongst other things: trade and economic cooperation, law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, foreign policy, security and defence, and thematic areas of cooperation).

The mandate reaffirms the EU’s commitment to establishing an “ambitious, wide-ranging and balanced economic partnership…underpinned by robust commitments ensuring a level playing field for open and fair competition”. The EU’s chief negotiator (Michel Barnier) has also underlined that the EU “will be stressing a fair and balanced partnership with a robust framework of governance as outlined in the political declaration that now needs to be reflected in our future partnerships by solid guarantees to ensure fair competition and high standards.”

The next step now is for the European Commission to agree with the UK the dates for the negotiation talks. It is anticipated that the first formal meeting between the EU and UK representatives will occur in early March 2020.

The UK Government plans to sets out its own approach to the EU-UK future relationship negotiations on Thursday 27 February 2020.