Insufficient progress on Brexit talks, warn MEPs

Written by Martin Banks and Julie Levy-Abegnoli on 3 October 2017 in News
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MEPs in Strasbourg adopted by a huge majority a resolution stating that there has not been sufficient progress on the EU’s priority aims in the ongoing Brexit talks.

MEPs adopted a resolution stating that there has not been sufficient progress on the Brexit talks | Photo credit: iStock


This condition is seen by MEPs as necessary and a prerequisite for negotiating any transition period or future relationship between the EU and UK.

The government leaders of the EU27 should, says the motion, postpone their assessment of Brexit at a summit on 20 October as “sufficient progress” has not been made on three key aims unless the fifth round of talks on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU delivers a major breakthrough.

The resolution was passed by 557 votes to 92, with 29 abstentions, on Tuesday.


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The motion, drafted by Parliament’s Brexit steering group, was debated with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

It reads, “Although Parliament welcomes the clarifications by Prime Minister Theresa May in her recent speech in Florence, MEPs expect the UK government to table, without delay, specific proposals to safeguard the full set of rights that 4.5 million EU and UK citizens currently enjoy; honour the UK’s financial obligations to the EU in full and resolve the Republic of Ireland/Northern Ireland border issue, in full compliance with the Good Friday agreement.”

An additional condition for concluding the first phase of negotiations is a guarantee that EU law will be respected until the UK’s official withdrawal from the EU, it says.

Commenting in plenary, Parliament President Antonio Tajani said, “Mrs May’s Florence speech demonstrated that she is open to dialogue and understands what is at stake. I would urge her to convert goodwill into the concrete plans needed to truly take negotiations forward with the European Union.

“The vote on today's resolution confirmed the Parliament’s unity in support of our chief negotiator, Michel Barnier. The debate also showed a clear desire for constructive engagement with the UK, but equally, considerable concern with the delays encountered so far.

“I hope that the next few months will allow for sufficient progress to be achieved in order to fulfil the preconditions for starting discussions on our future relationship with Britain,” added the EPP group member.

 Guy Verhofstadt, Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, noted, “There has not been sufficient progress made. Especially with regard to citizens’ rights, we are very worried. The proposal from our side to solve this is simple. Let EU citizens retain rights they enjoy now in the UK and let’s do exactly the same for the UK citizens living on the continent.”

The Belgian MEP went on, “I even ask myself, why are we still discussing this? This could and should be concluded immediately.”

In the same debate, EPP group leader Manfred Weber was very critical of the UK government, saying “London is very creative in putting red lines on the table to please their party supporters, however they fail provide any solutions for their voters and citizens.”

His Socialist counterpart, Gianni Pittella, said “Arriving at Downing Street, May said Brexit would be straightforward, yet there is still dense fog around the negotiations. However, as the EU, we must remain positive, because what is at stake is important – the rights of our citizens. We will never accept a scenario where our citizens are treated as second-class citizens.”

He added, “It must be clear, during the transition period the four freedoms will apply and the European Court of Justice will retain oversight.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

Julie Levy-Abegnoli is a journalist for the Parliament Magazine

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