Brussels in Brief

Friday, 6 September, 2019

UK government confirms it will no longer attend EU technical meetings

On 3rd September, the UK government confirmed it will no longer be attending EU meetings in order to focus resources on national priorities. The Department for Exiting the EU confirmed in a statement that UK officials and ministers will only attend EU meetings where the UK has “significant national interest in the outcome of discussions, such as on security.” The statement goes on to say that the top priorities for the UK government will be preparations for Brexit on October 31st and on the UK’s future relationship with the EU, new trade deals and promoting a “Global Britain”.

Agriculture meetings will not be seen as priority but decisions will be taken on a case-by-case basis depending on the items under discussion. British Agriculture Bureau (BAB), will be keeping a close eye on issues that will have an impact on members’ businesses. Many topics under discussion, including the renewal of plant protection products, or changes to animal health rules, are discussed by technical experts at EU meetings and therefore are still very relevant for UK agriculture.   

UK will not nominate a new Commissioner to the EU

The UK’s Permanent Representative to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, has written to the EU to confirm that the UK will not be nominating a candidate for the 2019-2024 College of Commissioners, the team of commissioners from the EU member states which works alongside the commission president.

This follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement to the House of Commons on July 25th, that the UK would not be nominating a UK commissioner. The Government has since been clear that we are leaving the EU on October 31st, whatever the circumstances. Therefore, as the new commission will not be taking up office until after we have left on November 1st, the UK will not need a new commissioner. The letter, sent to the Head of the Transition Team of European Commission President-elect, enables the EU to proceed in appointing a new Commission without a UK nominee.