MEPs Agree on Brexit Negotiation PlanApril 11, 2017 in Brexit, Uncategorized
Last week, the European Parliament backed a motion setting out its position for the Brexit negotiations. The vote backed the motion 516 to 133.
The motion effectively sets out general principles at the start of the two year negotiations for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union (EU) under the Article 50 Process. Speaking at a press conference on 5 April shortly after the vote, Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit negotiator, stated that the vote meant that “the UK on the one hand and the (European) Commission on the other hand now know the position of the Parliament, what the red lines are.” He went on to say that “the interests of our citizens is our first priority” and called for an early resolution on the status of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens elsewhere in the EU.
The motion, which was supported by the two largest groups of MEPs, backs a number of positions that have been taken by EU leaders and which include the need for a “phased approach” to negotiations. This would effectively require progress on the terms of Britain’s withdrawal, including settling financial commitments, before talks on a future trading relationship can begin. It also backs the call for transparency in the talks, and for the UK to be considered liable for financial commitments that apply after it leaves the EU. It further states:
- Transitional arrangements should be time-limited to three years and be enforced by the EU’s Court of Justice
- UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in Britain should receive “reciprocal” treatment
- The final deal should not include a “trade-off” between trade and security co-operation
- The UK should adhere to EU environmental and anti-tax evasion standards in order to get close trade ties
- The European Banking Authority and European Medicines Agency should be moved out of London
- The UK should pay towards costs for the EU that “arise directly from its withdrawal”
During the debate, Manfred Weber, chairman of the largest group of MEPs, the centre-right European People’s Party, stating that “cherry-picking will not happen. A state outside the European Union will not have better conditions than a state inside the European Union.” Gianna Pitella, chairman of the European Socialists and Democrats also agued that the UK “can not benefit from the same conditions as members do,” adding “if you leave the house, you still have to pay the bills.”
While the motion is not binding on European Commission officials, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker told MEPs that “the role of this parliament is more important than ever. You must scrutinise and validate the final agreement.” He went on to say, “we will of course negotiate in friendship and openness and not in a hostile mood, with a country that has brought so much to our union and will remain close to hearts long after they have left, but this is now the time for reason over emotion,” adding, “what’s at stake here are the lives of millions of people. Millions have family or professional links to the United Kingdom.”