Strong support for European unity in Strasbourg after vote for Brexit talks motion
MEPS HAVE TODAY [Wednesday 5 April] backed a programme for Brexit talks with a large majority in favour following a plenary debate in Strasbourg, France.
The plan, coordinated between leaders of the conservative, socialist, liberal, and green groups of the parliament, backs a strong line on the order of discussions – rejecting Tory hopes of ‘parallel’ discussions on the divorce settlement and the UK’s future relationship with the EU. The vote was 516 MEPs in favour of the text, with 133 MEP (mainly from nationalist Eurosceptic groups) against.
The motion also emphasised a ‘citizens first’ approach – to secure the future position of UK nationals in the EU, and EU citizens in the UK before progressing talks onto any framework for the future relationship.
“We will be firm. We need to be firm to defend the European [project] to UK authorities.” Guy Verhofstadt
The motion also recognised the vote in Scotland to remain within the European Union.
European Commission President Jean-Claud Junker told parliament there can be no answers about the future relationship of the UK to the EU until question of the Brexit divorce were “fully resolved”.
Lead commission negotiator Michel Barnier reaffirmed that the Tory Government would have to meet all financial commitments, and avoid a “risky approach” of demanding parallel talks.
Guy Verhofstadt said the Irish border issue was “essential” to European partners, who have been subject to intense lobbying on the issue from the Irish Government. “We will be firm. We need to be firm to defend the European [project] to UK authorities,” he added.
Early exchanges on Brexit have focused on the rejection by EU leaders of Theresa May’s timetable to attempt a trade deal, and the EU granting Spain a veto on the future position of Gibraltar.
Picture courtesy of EU Parliament
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