BREXIT negotiations begin: The voice of Regions and their citizens must be represented

By the CPMR Secretariat

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The Brexit negotiations kicked off today in Brussels, almost a year after the EU Referendum vote, and almost three months after the UK Government formally triggered the Article 50 process.

The CPMR is taking an active interest in Brexit as part of our reflections on the future of Europe. We have member regions in the UK, Ireland, along the coasts of the Atlantic, the North Sea and the Channel, and there are many strong social, cultural, economic, historical and political links that bind us together. Brexit has a huge bearing on the lives of citizens within the areas represented in our CPMR partnership.

In May, the CPMR organised a seminar on Brexit with the European Commission’s ‘Brexit Taskforce’ and colleagues from the Irish, Scottish and Flemish Governments, and we have further actions planned over the coming months.

We made clear in our press release, published in March, that the negotiations must be sensitive to and take account of the territorial impact of Brexit. Some regions and sectors will be disproportionately affected by Brexit, and this must be uppermost in the minds of the negotiators to ensure, as far as possible, that the negative consequences of Brexit are minimised.

Of course, this impact will ultimately affect the lives of ordinary people. Therefore, we are arguing forcibly that the voice of regions must be present in the negotiations, through the direct participation of the UK Devolved Administrations as part of the UK team, and through structured engagement by the European Commission and the EU27 regions.

We also want to see post-Brexit opportunities for continued co-operation between regions in the UK and the EU27. We are calling for a quick resolution of any uncertainty for EU27 citizens living in the UK and UK citizens in the EU27.

One other area of uncertainty is the impact Brexit will have on the current Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) and subsequently on the new MFF in the post-Brexit period. We will be making sure that regional interests are central to these discussions.

We welcome the transparent and open approach to the negotiations taken by the EU27 and the European Commission. On such an important subject, EU citizens should be fully aware of how the governments negotiating on their behalf are approaching these discussions.

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