Tag Archives: Plenary

COVID19: EP Plenary moves to Brussels

“At 18.00 today, I have received an updated report from the European Parliament’s Medical Service on the evolution of COVID-19 which states that the health risks are considered to be significantly higher if Parliament’s plenary session next weektakes place in Strasbourg” reads the statement of the European Parliament president David Sassoli.

“On the basis of this evaluation, due to force majeure, I decided that the necessary security conditions are not in place for the usual transfer of the European Parliament to Strasbourg for the plenary session next week.

“I have informed the French authorities and have thanked them for their collaboration in the past days.

“The plenary session will exceptionally be held in Brussels. Parliament undertakes to reschedule a plenary session in Strasbourg in accordance with the Treaties.”

Sassoli removes national flags

To indignation of some Members of the European Parliament, the January Plenary session in Strasbourg started with removal of national flags from the desks in the Chamber.
The European Union is slipping further. The autocratic socialist Sassoli, who was appointed President of the European Parliament, has ordered to bailiffs to seize all national flags on the banks of parliamentarians. Continuation follows!”wrote Gerolf Annemans, MEP from Vlaams Belang party.

Nigel Farage leading the UK Brexit party expressed his content to leave the bloc.

Verhofstad calls for Brexit talks start

“Let’s start Brexit negotiations, to end uncertainty and low economic growth”, Guy Verhofstadt

During today’s plenary debate, ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt called on the UK to finally agree on a joint position to start the negotiations with the EU.

“It’s time now to start negotiations. And therefore, we need an answer from the British on a number of pressing questions”, – said Verhofstadt, representing the European Parliament in Brexit negociations

“First, will the British position be the same as in the letter of March 29; the hard Brexit, or will the UK government take the outcome of national elections into account?

Second: will the British negotiating position represent the position of the Tories or will it be the position of the whole nation? Party interest or national interest? Because this is not about the Tories leaving the EU, but about the U.K. leaving the EU.

Third question: how will the U.K. protect the Good Friday agreement, how will they prevent the imposition of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic?

Fourth: will the U.K. guarantee the current rights of EU citizens as we, from our side, are prepared to fully guarantee the rights of UK citizens’ rights?

Fifth question: will the UK government confirm its existing position on the single market and the customs union?  Is the populist illusion of restricting free movement of people more important than the fortune of the British workers, British industry and the British economy?

We need answers to these questions urgently.

The uncertainty created by Brexit is already affecting the UK dramatically. Today, the U.K. has the lowest growth rate in years. The UK economy is experiencing  nearly zero growth, only 0.2 per cent in the first quarter, more than three times less than the previous quarter last year.”

He also elaborated on President Macron’s remark that the door to the European Union remains open:

Macron spoke about an open door if Britain changes its mind. I agree. But like in Alice in wonderland, not all the doors are the same. It will be a brand new door, to a new Europe without complexity, with real powers, and with unity.”

Finally, he called on Commission President Juncker to come forward with legislative proposals to reform Europe:

“Reform of the European Union should not be bogged down in the current Brexit talks, which look like the procession of Echternach: two steps forward, one step backwards.”

“I’m very grateful to the Commission for the reflection papers (on the EMU, on defense). But the Commission is more than a think tank. We need legislative proposals now. We need action. Don’t leave, Jean-Claude, the options open for the Council, to fill in the blanks. It’s the Commission that must occupy the terrain, it’s the Commission that must steer the Union.”

“After the German elections, we need to shift into a higher gear. The election of a new French President and a new German government is the ideal moment to start the process to reform.”

Tusk draws Brexit 'red lines'

MEPs welcomed the unity of the 27 Member States and the EU institutions with regard to Brexit and also called for a reform of the EU to benefit all its citizens.

The President of the European Council Donald Tusk (pictured) presented to MEPs the Guidelines for Brexit negotiations agreed by the Member States at the summit on 29 April. He welcomed the alignment with the ‘red lines’ set by the European Parliament. The detailed negotiating mandate will be presented for adoption at a European Council summit on 22nd May, pointed out the President of the Commission Jean-Claude Juncker.

In line with negotiator Michel Barnier, most MEPs emphasised the unity between the EU institutions and the 27 Member States, who are determined to act together to reach a balanced agreement with the United Kingdom.

The debated focussed on the basis for future negotiations, as recalled by Michel Barnier:

  • no negotiations on the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom can take place before “tangible progress” is made,
  • guaranteeing the rights of European citizens affected by the UK’s decision to leave the EU,
  • the Northern Ireland peace process must be upheld (including the absence of physical border between Ireland and Northern Ireland),
  • the United Kingdom must respect all the financial commitments made as a Member State.

Michel Barnier stressed the need for transparent negotiations, which will begin after the UK national election on 8 June.

MEPs underlined the importance of unity and trust so that, in parallel to negotiations being carried out for an ‘orderly withdrawal’ of the UK, the reform of the Union can take place to rapidly respond to citizens’ concerns and make the benefits of European integration much more visible.

The vote in the UK for Brexit and the rise in populism in some countries, in particular in France and the Netherlands, should be a lesson to European leaders, said many MEPs. Whilst the victories of pro-European parties was welcomed, several MEPs urged not to pat ourselves too much on the back; “populism and nationalism are not dead”. More than ever, it is vital to listen to citizens and respond to their expectations in defining the future of the EU: social and environmental norms in a globalised world, organisation of the job market in the face of technological challenges, taxation and the security of European citizens must all be taken into account, said MEPs.

Henry Borzi