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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.”

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