Is the draft EU mandate that different to the final mandate for negotiations with the UK? Not really but there are some interesting nuggets, writes Georgina Wright in a very informative thread.

First published in February 2020.

The application of the Withdrawal Agreement is as important as the future UK-EU negotiations: Republic of Ireland – UK must work well (BIG job for joint committee).

The mandate does not mention GB-Northern Ireland checks but member states will be watching.

Directives for the negotiation of a new partnership with the UK. / Council of the European Union


There will be parallel negotiations (you can imagine goods, security and fish all taking place at the same time). The EU negotiators will work closely with the Working Party on the UK (that’s where EU27 diplomats meet inside the Council). They will also update the EU Parliament.

Level playing-field now and forever

The mandate doesn’t say that the UK and the EU must have the same standards but “corresponding high standards” using EU standards as benchmarks. This is because Member States are worried about a “gradual divergence” – so not immediate divergence but over time.

Level playing-field

They have listed specific policy areas Level Playing Field provisions should apply to (state aid, environment, climate change, etc.); but that list could be extended.

ECHR and health

The EU really cares about the UK’s commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and health and safety standards – both in terms of the produce itself and production methods. It also encourages cooperation on global pandemics (looking at you, Coronavirus).


The EU is open to exploring alternative ways of sharing information – but it needs to be simplified, efficient and effective. Data adequacy rules are a condition for a strong law-enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

Elgin Marbles

They don’t need to be returned but the UK and the EU should definitely have a conversation about them.

Directives for the negotiation of a new partnership with the UK. / Council of the European Union

Financial equivalence

Financial equivalence has its own dedicated paragraph. These are unilateral measures – but consultation with the UK is important.

Nuclear cooperation

The EU encourages a close research and development, exchange of information, and a scheme for skilled workers (they are, after all, highly specialised jobs).

No (real) bespoke aviation cooperation

The UK and the EU should seek a comprehensive agreement but “consider arrangements typically included in EU bilateral aviation agreements.”


It’s not just the Channel Tunnel that requires specific attention; so does the Belfast-Dublin Enterprise line!

And there is a new section on Maritime transport.

Directives for the negotiation of a new partnership with the UK. / Council of the European Union


More hardline – a lot more hardine. All about upholding (rather than defining) reciprocal access to waters, upholding quotas, etc. Fun times ahead.


Member States are definitely not ready to offer the UK a bespoke access to Galileo at this stage. In fact, the Commission’s paragraph on how this bespoke access could work has been dropped completely.

COP26 klaxon

The EU believes the EU27 and the UK should work closely on maintaining Europe’s (and not the EU’s) leadership in combating climate change. Which is handy given the UK is hosting the next climate summit later this year.


The guillotine clause? Failure to comply with a dispute ruling could lead to the suspension of the agreement (or parts of the agreement) as well as supplementing agreements. So a failure in one part could affect other parts of the cooperation.

Tweets posted on 25 February 2020 by @GeorginaEWright.

[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 25 February 2020 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

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