BRUSSELS: Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz attended the EU General Affairs Council in Brussels. The Council’s main topic was Brexit, including the decision authorising the opening of Brexit negotiations with the UK according to Article 50 and the nomination of the Commission as EU negotiator. Negotiating directives for the Brexit talks were also discussed.
Federal Minister Sebastian Kurz said before the meeting:
Above all, we must now quickly establish legal certainty for EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU.
A large number of difficult issues will be on the table as part of the Brexit negotiations. One of the issues to resolve is the UK’s financial commitments to the EU. Austria firmly believes that the loss of EU budget contributions must be compensated for by savings. In the words of Federal Minister Sebastian Kurz:
The EU must compensate the €14 billion of losses caused by Brexit through savings and reforms and definitely not through higher contributions from the net contributors.
In order to prevent Brexit from weakening the EU, Austria advocates a shift in European policy towards greater emphasis on the principle of subsidiarity: Greater cooperation in areas such as the joint protection of the EU‘s external borders and foreign, security and defence policy, but a return to regional and national decision-making on more local issues. The last stage of the Brexit negotiations will take place under the Austrian EU Presidency in the second half of 2018, conferring on the country an important role in the Brexit process.