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Summary

  1. MEPs on the Constitutional Affairs Committee took evidence from Jonathan Faull, who heads the EU's taskforce for negotiations with the UK.
  2. The small unit of officials was set up last summer to co-ordinate negotiations between the UK government and the European Commission.
  3. Prime Minister David Cameron recently said he is “hopeful” that a final deal on the negotiations can be reached at a summit of EU leaders next month.

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

  1. Session finishes

    And with that, Jonathan Faull's appearance in front of the committee comes to an end. 

  2. 'I don't have a vote myself'

    Spanish Socialist Ramón Jauregui Atondo says the negotiations have been carried out on the assumption that the UK will vote to remain in the EU. 

    He asks what will happen to the changes implied by the agreement if the UK votes to leave. 

    Jonathan Faull says he doesn't want to "speculate" on the outcome of the vote. 

    "I don't even have a vote myself, I've lived abroad for too long", he adds. 

    Jonathan Faull
  3. Questions on future of European Parliament powers

    French Socialist Pervenche Beres says that the eventual deal could have a possible impact on the powers of the European Parliament, and the possible future of changes to the Eurozone. 

    He says she is concerned that there have been "no consultations" on this issue. 

    In response, Jonathan Faull says members of the Commission have always been ready to meet with members of the European Parliament. 

    He adds that "there is no suggestion" that any country is pushing for impediments on future Eurozone integration to be a part of the deal. 

    Pervenche Beres
  4. Referendums decided by 'separate questions'

    German social democrat Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann expresses concern that the negotiation questions "will play no role" in the referendum campaign to follow.

    She adds that referendums are often decided be "completely separate questions". 

    In reply, Jonathan Faull says he "can't really speculate" on the campaign itself, which remains "a matter for the British people". 

    Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann
  5. Negotiations have been 'difficult'

    German left-wing MEP Helmut Scholz asks what impact the deal might have on the EU's fundamental rights.

    Jonathan Faull again replies that it depends on that exactly is agreed - but that many of the UK's demands might be achievable without requiring treaty change. 

    German Christian democrat MEP David McAllister, who has served as an adviser to Chancellor Angela Merkel on the negotiations with the UK, asks how difficult the negotiations have been, and whether a deal will be reached next month. 

    Mr Faull replies that the negotiations "have been difficult" because of the complexity of the issues involved. 

    He adds that "expectations have been raised" that a deal will be sealed next month. 

    Jonathan Faull
  6. Treaty change would take 'considerable' time

    In response to a question from Hungarian Fidesz MEP György Schopflin, Jonathan Faull says he agrees that whatever deal is agreed should not undermine the EU's "four freedoms". 

    Italian social democrat Mercedes Bresso asks what the possible process might be for formalising whatever is agreed for the UK. 

    "Everything will depend on what is to be done", says Mr Faull in reply - although he notes that changes to the EU treaties would take "a considerable length of time". 

    Mercedes Bresso
  7. What does the UK government want from the renegotiation?

    Prime Minister David Cameron has said, in a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, that he is seeking changes to the UK’s membership in four areas:

    • Economic governance: Securing an explicit recognition that the euro is not the only currency of the European Union, to ensure countries outside the eurozone are not materially disadvantaged. The UK wants safeguards that steps to further financial union cannot be imposed on non-eurozone members and the UK will not have to contribute to eurozone bailouts
    • Competitiveness: Setting a target for the reduction of the "burden" of excessive regulation and extending the single market
    • Immigration: Restricting access to in-work and out-of-work benefits to EU migrants. Specifically, ministers want to stop those coming to the UK from claiming certain benefits until they have been resident for four years. Minsters have reportedly been warned by the UK's top civil servant this could be discriminatory and any limits may be reduced to less than a year
    • Sovereignty: Allowing Britain to opt out from the EU's founding ambition to forge an "ever closer union" of the peoples of Europe so it will not be drawn into further political integration. Gaining greater powers to allow national parliaments to work together to block EU legislation 
    UK and EU flags
  8. 'Range of possibilities' exist for EU deal

    Jonathan Faull begins by telling MEPs that following "intensive discussions" between various leaders and the UK government, next month's summit of EU leaders"could be" the one when a final deal is reached. 

    He adds that the campaign has begun "in earnest", but will continue on a more formal basis once the renegotiation process has finished. 

    He adds that the final status of the deal will depend on the substance of what is agreed, but that there are a "range of possibilities", ranging from a "simple declarative statement" from EU leaders, to legislative or treaty changes. 

    He predicts that the debate on the UK's status "all across our member states" will begin once a deal is reached.  

    Jonathan Faull
  9. Who is Jonanthan Faull?

    The Kent-born official has been a civil servant at the European Commission for over 30 years.

    He has previously been the senior civil servant at the Commission’s financial services department, where he was responsible for overseeing work on EU financial services legislation.

    He has also worked in the Commission’s competition department and worked as one of the Commission’s senior press officers.

    He has previously expressed scepticism about whether the UK could continue as a non-EU member of the single market, without having to abide by EU regulations.

    In an article for the European Parliament’s in-house magazine in 2013, he said that “the reality of modern Europe is that economic rules of this sort are made in Brussels”.

    “The only question is whether Britain will be at the table shaping them or just receiving them by email after some form of consultation”, he added. 

    Jonathan Faull
  10. Good Morning

    Hello and welcome to coverage of this meeting of the Constitutional Affairs Committee of the European Parliament in Brussels.

    This morning, MEPs are going to be taking evidence on the UK’s EU renegotiations from Jonathan Faull, a British Commission official who leads the EU’s negotiation taskforce.

    The small unit of officials was set up last summer to co-ordinate negotiations between the UK government and the European Commission.

    Prime Minister David Cameron has said he wants to change the UK’s relationship with the EU, before holding an in/out referendum on membership before the end of 2017.

    He recently said that he is “hopeful” that a final deal on the negotiations can be reached at February’s meeting of EU leaders.