Parliament President to meet EU leaders in bid to break Brexit deadlock
European Parliament President David Sassoli is meeting key EU leaders this week in an attempt to help resolve the Brexit impasse.
David Sassoli and Emmanuel Macron | Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual
The Italian MEP met Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Monday and was due to meet Angela Merkel in Berlin on Tuesday. Later on Tuesday he will travel to London to meet UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to discuss Brexit and other issues.
This is the first European tour for Sassoli, an EPP member.
On Monday, a Parliament spokesman told reporters that discussions will focus on Brexit but also the beginning of negotiations on the next multiannual budget of the European Union “where the European Parliament has an important role.”
The meetings come just ahead of a key EU summit on 17 October where Brexit will again take centre stage.
The UK is due to leave the EU on 31 October, something that the UK Prime Minister says will happen “with or without a deal” with the Union.
Last Wednesday, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier debriefed the members of Parliament’s Brexit Steering group (BSG) on the UK government's latest proposals. Following an exchange of views, the members agreed on a statement.
It reads, "The BSG does not find these last-minute proposals of the UK government of 2 October, in their current form, represent a basis for an agreement to which the European Parliament could give consent.”
"We are closely following the latest proposals of the UK government. We fear that, for the time being, these proposals lack the necessary basis to secure a deal. In fact, we are worried that we are running out of time for an orderly Brexit" Luca Jahier, EESC President
“The proposals do not address the real issues that need to be resolved, namely the all-island economy, the full respect of the Good Friday Agreement and the integrity of the Single Market.”
“While we remain open to workable, legally operable and serious solutions, the UK’s proposals fall short and represent a significant movement away from joint commitments and objectives.”
The European Parliament meets for a two-day session on Wednesday and Thursday where MEPs are expected to reaffirm their negotiating position on the 2021-27 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).
They will also debate the forthcoming European Council summit which will feature Brexit, an exchange with President-elect of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on her priorities, and it is also expected that Christine Lagarde's appointment as President of the European Central Bank will be confirmed.
Meanwhile, following the proposal on the Irish backstop made by Boris Johnson, the EESC president Luca Jahier and Stefano Mallia, chair of the Committee’s “Brexit Follow-up Group”, have voiced pessimism about a deal being struck by the end of this month.
Jahier said: "As EESC, the house of the European civil society, we are closely following the latest proposals of the UK government. We fear that, for the time being, these proposals lack the necessary basis to secure a deal. In fact, we are worried that we are running out of time for an orderly Brexit, which should be a top priority.”
“We have said since a long time that a no-deal Brexit would have a very negative impact on both the UK and the EU and especially on civil society on both sides."
Further comment came from Mallia, who said: "The UK has a relationship with the EU which is built over 45 years of EU membership. It is therefore a special relationship, which the EESC, as the representative of organised civil society, is determined to preserve.”
“We must prepare the ground work required to ensure that the relationship can and will continue even in a post-Brexit era.”
Both Jahier and Mallia expressed their concerns that a hard Brexit will disrupt the delicate balance currently in place in Ireland. Both hope that the next few days will “see some significant progress in the negotiations and that the UK will come forward with a more workable proposal.”
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