Theresa May to meet with MEPs

Written by Martin Banks on 12 September 2017 in News

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has agreed to discuss Brexit directly with MEPs, it has emerged.

Theresa May | Photo credit: Press Association

The news was revealed at a news conference on Tuesday by Guy Verhofstadt, who is Parliament's Brexit negotiator.

However, it is unclear whether May will hold the discussion with just the small circle of mainstream political group leaders, or all MEPs in an open session.

The date and venue - Brussels or Strasbourg - of her visit are also yet to be determined.


Verhofstadt, speaking in Strasbourg, said, "I am pleased that Mrs May has now accepted our invitation to come to Parliament to address Brexit with us. But instead of just addressing the Conference of Presidents - group leaders - it should be with the whole House.

"That would be helpful because it is the Parliament, of course, that must give the green light to any Brexit deal. All this needs to be debated in an open dialogue between Mrs May and all members. Of course, in the past other heads of state and Prime Ministers have done this (address the plenary)."

It is not yet known when she will visit, he told reporters.

He said, "The only thing I can confirm is that she will come and a date is trying to be arranged."

He again said that sufficient progress on the issues of the UK withdrawal, including citizens' rights and the divorce bill the UK must pay before it leaves, must be made before the Brexit talks can progress.

On the separate issue of the reallocation of the 73 British seats in Parliament that will become vacant after Brexit - a matter which was debated at committee stage in Parliament on Monday - he said, "Things are different now because the Brexit vote has happened but we don't have to wait until the UK has actually left the EU to start a debate on this and take a decision. The next step is for Parliament to establish its position on the seat issue. We have to decide what to do with these 73 seats."

He went on, "First, I would say reduce the number of seats to be reallocated; second, we must guarantee that no member state loses any seats because of this and, third, we should be looking at introducing transnational lists, something that could be easily achieved."

The ALDE group leader went on, "We have to reach a compromise on this issue with the Council and member states."

On the state of the union address and debate in Parliament on Wednesday, Verhofstadt said, "There is a huge difference with the EU now compared with last year. The time now is right to start reform of the EU. 

"We have not seen the feared domino effect after Donald Trump's election and Brexit. The aim of the address by the Commission President tomorrow should be to address what reforms we need in the last two years of this commission. 

"Let's face it, the first two years of the Juncker Commission were crisis management but we are now at a turning point with the need to reform the EU. I hope Juncker, in his speech on Wednesday, will launch a huge reform agenda."


About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine


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