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Statement by David Sassoli, President of the EU Parliament

David Sassoli, President of the EU Parliament, made a statement following his meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 9 October 2019.

I have just had a meeting with Prime Minister Johnson. I came here in the confident hope of hearing proposals that could take negotiations forward. However, I must note that there has been no progress.

As you know, a deal between the EU and UK requires not only a positive meaningful vote of the House of Commons, but also the European Parliament’s approval.

It is therefore important that the UK Prime Minister hears directly from the European Parliament on its approach to Brexit. I am grateful to Mr Johnson for giving me that opportunity.

Our approach is very straightforward. We think an orderly Brexit, the UK leaving with a deal, is by far the best outcome. The deal that we thought had been agreed with the UK last year was a text the EP could have supported. It resolved all the issues associated with the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. It provided certainty for citizens and businesses. It looked forward to a close future EU-UK relationship. As things stand, it remains the best possible agreement.

As I explained to Mr Johnson, the Parliament will not agree to a deal at any price. We will not agree to a deal that undermines the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process or compromise the integrity of our single market. This we made plain in our resolution adopted with a huge majority in September.

We have examined the UK proposals to replace the original backstop and our response is that these are a long way from something to which the Parliament could agree. In addition, they are not immediately operable.

Negotiations, I know, are continuing and the Parliament, through its Brexit Steering Group, is being kept fully informed by Michel Barnier of the progress on those talks.

There are two alternatives to a deal at this juncture: extension or no deal.

On an extension, the Parliament is open to this possibility, should there be a good reason or purpose for this. But requesting an extension is a matter for the UK and it is not my place to comment on the political controversies or legal issues that are being debated in the United Kingdom.

As far as no deal is concerned, we are very clear that this would be a very negative outcome. It will be economically damaging to both parties, in particular to the UK. It will have very serious consequences on the island of Ireland. It will increase uncertainty for business and above all for citizens. “No deal” would clearly be the responsibility of the UK government.

On citizens, we will continue to ensure that in all scenarios their rights are protected.

I do hope a no-deal outcome can be avoided, but if not, the EU has taken the necessary measures to prepare for this outcome.

I continue to place my faith in good sense and responsibility but among friends, duty demands that we tell each other the truth.

Thank you.

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/the-president/home/ep-newsroom/pageContent-area/newsroom/statement-by-david-sassoli-president-of-the-european-parliament.html

But what is the extension for ?

It looks increasing unlikely that any deal will ever be reached between the UK and the EU.

EU Elections – Results from the UK

by Politicker 0 Comments

In the UK, votes in the EU election were counted after the final polls finished in the remaining EU member countries. Results started coming in through Sunday night and Monday morning.

Voter turnout in the UK was 17,199,701 (36.7%) the second highest after 2004, when that figure was 38.52%

The undoubted success of the EU Elections was the election of 29 MEPS representing the Brexit Party as both the main parties suffered losses following a Brexit backlash.

The Brexit Party was launched in April 2019, and is led by Nigel Farage. It was formed to campaign for the withdrawal of the UK from the EU either with, or without an agreed deal with the EU and has rapidly gained support from both UKIP and Conservative party members

https://thebrexitparty.org/

Results

The Brexit Party won the biggest share of the available seats, gaining 29 MEPs.

The pro-Remain Liberal Democrats finished in second place with 16 MEPs (15 more than last time).

Labour came in 3rd place with 10 MEPs (losing 10) as voters seemed to split between the clear alternatives offered by the Brexit Party (Leave) and the Liberal Democrats (Remain).

The Green party finished in 4th place with 7 MEPs (gaining 4).

Conservatives finished in 5th place with only 4 MEPs receiving 9% of the vote in England and Wales.

The SNP gained 1 MEP to finish with 3 MEPs.

Biggest losers were UKIP who lost all their 24 MEPs

This map shows the parties which came top in council areas across the country. (This does not show the results for Northern Ireland which uses a different voting system to that used in the rest of the UK).

Summary

Party MEPs Gain/Loss Votes % Vote % Gain/Loss
Brexit Party 29 +29 5,248,533 31.6% +31.6%
Liberal Democrats 16 +15 3,367,284 20.3% +13.4%
Labour 10 -10 2,347,255 14.1% -11.3%
Green 7 +4 2,023,380 12.1% +4.2%
Conservative 4 -15 1,512,147 9.1% -14.8%
SNP 3 +1 594,553 3.6% +1.1%
Plaid Cymru 1 0 163,928 1.0% +0.3%
Sinn Féin (NI) 1 0 126,951 - -
Democratic Unionist Party (NI) 1 0 124,991 - -
Alliance Party (NI) 1 +1 105,928 - -
Change UK 0 0 571,846 3.4% +3.4%
UKIP 0 -24 554,463 3.3% -24.19%
Ulster Unionist Party 0 -1 53,052 - -
Others 0 0 405,390 1.6% -

Details of the results including information on all the parties in the UK taking part in the EU elections and results from across Europe can be found on the BBC website

UK’s European elections 2019 (BBC)

The Brexit Party did not only win in the UK but also became the largest single political party, from any EU member country, in the new EU Parliament. The next biggest political party is La Lega from Italy.

This is of no particular advantage to the Brexit Party – Because of the way MEPs organise themselves into political groups in the EU parliament they are soon swamped and forgotten (and ineffective) – Anyone know the name of their new MEP ?

(Useful data of the results is available from each region in local file copy EU-Elections.zip)

2019 European Parliament elections

by Politicker 0 Comments

751 MEPs are elected to the European Parliament from across all member countries and elections are held every five years. The UK is taking part in these elections, today, in spite of the notification of the intention for the UK to leave the EU. Counting of the votes won’t take place until elections held by all EU countries have finished on Sunday 26 May.

Due to the delay in Brexit, and EU law, the UK has to take part in the elections for MEPs, although the elected candidates from the UK may not take their seats in the European Parliament it the UK were to leave the EU before the end of July (which is not looking likely).

Prior to the elections Nigel Farage announced that the Brexit Party, launched on 12 April 2019, will contest all the seats, apart from those in Northern Ireland. The Brexit Party was formed in response to the lack of progress by the Government in implementing the result of the EU Referendum held in 2016.

Brexit Party Website

Surveys held in the run up to the elections consistently indicated massive support for the Brexit Party. There were also many indications that Conservative supporters, frustrated by the delay in leaving the EU, planned to vote in support of the Brexit Party.

In final polls the Brexit Party were showing support at an average of 32% – indicating a clear message that a large proportion of the public still want to see the UK out of the EU and may also show a lack of confidence in Theresa May and her Government being able to achieve that aim.

Although the Labour Party initially showed support at around 24% at the time of the local elections held on 6 May, polling shows falling support mainly because of the unclear and ambiguous message on Brexit presented by the party. Some polls place Labour in 3rd place, with support at 13%-15%, behind the Liberal Democrats who are polling strongly with their anti-Brexit stance.

The Conservative Party are likely to finish in fourth place depending on whether there is a surge in support for the Green Party.

ChangeUK web-site

Support for the Change UK Party is not showing much traction (around 1%-2%) and it will be interesting to see if the new party survives in the longer term – does this mean a merger with the Liberal Democrats? and UKIP is likely to lose support as their followers migrate towards the Brexit party.

Although the major parties are hoping that electors will vote based on topics other than Brexit, it is likely that the election will be treated as a protest vote indicating support for either remaining or leaving the EU. In some respects, the election is meaningless and a waste of time, money and effort if the UK were to leave the EU during the next session of the EU Parliament. It is also possible the the UK representation to the Parliament will be strongly anti-EU – although with a total of 751 MEPs in the Parliament, somewhat ineffective.

European elections in the UK use a form of proportional representation to elect MEPs, with 73 seats available spread across regions in the UK.

Region Number of seats
East Midlands 5
East of England 7
London 8
North East 3
North West 8
South East 10
South West 6
West Midlands 7
Yorkshire and the Humber 6
Scotland 6
Wales 4
Northern Ireland 3

Electors vote on the basis of a political party rather than individuals as in Local and General elections. In England, Scotland and Wales, seats are awarded according to the share of the vote for the party. A list of candidates is put forward in ranked order by each party and MEPs are selected from these lists.

In England, Scotland and Wales the voting system for the European elections is the d’Hondt system of proportional representation – regional closed list. In Northern Ireland the system is Single Transferable Vote.

Read more about the mechanism at

The EU Election Voting System in the UK

EU Parliament priorities for Brexit

The EU Parliament have today released a document containing the motion “Motion for a resolution to wind up the debate on the framework of the future EU-UK relationship” which outlines priorities in the negotiations, from the EU Parliament’s point of view, for the UK’s exit from the EU.

It will be debated next Tuesday (13 March 2018) for a vote in Parliament next Wednesday (14 March 2018)

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION – to wind up the debate on the framework of the future EU-UK relationship (PDF)

The document has been prepared by the Brext Steering Group of the EU Parliament, led by Guy Verhofstadt – EU Parliament coordinator for Brexit.

It consists of 65 paragraphs, covering numerous topics, and mentions the possibility of creating an Association Agreement with the UK.

An EU Association Agreement is a treaty between the European Union (EU) and a non-EU country that creates a framework for co-operation between them.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_Association_Agreement

5. Reiterates that an association agreement negotiated and agreed between the EU and United Kingdom post-UK withdrawal pursuant to Article 8 TEU and Article 217 TFEU could provide an appropriate framework for the future relationship, and secure a consistent governance framework, which should include a robust dispute resolution mechanism, avoiding the inflation of bilateral agreements and the shortcomings which
characterise our relationship with Switzerland;

6. Proposes that this future relationship be based on the following four pillars:

– trade and economic relations
– foreign policy, security cooperation and development cooperation;
– internal security
– thematic cooperation

The EU Parliament does not have a formal role in the Brexit negotiations but it will have a binding vote on the eventual deal.

In a press release,

Press Release – Brexit: Parliament to set out its vision for future EU-UK relations

EU Parliament’s President Antonio Tajani said:

As far as the European Parliament is concerned, the principles governing our future relations are clear: single market integrity must be preserved, a third country cannot be treated more favourably than an EU member state and a level playing field is essential. Working from these guidelines, we want to achieve the closest possible relationship between the European Union and United Kingdom. Brexit will not solve shared issues such as terrorism and security, for instance, so close cooperation in many areas will continue to be of mutual interest.

Brexit negotiations have reached a critical stage, yet essential issues over citizens’ rights remain unresolved and solutions maintaining an invisible border on the island of Ireland are not forthcoming. Any type of border would jeopardise the achievements of the Good Friday Agreement and I insist that this must absolutely be avoided.

With regards to the transition period, the European Parliament is also clear that we will not approve an agreement that discriminates against European citizens who arrive in the UK during the latter. The acquis communautaire must apply fully, including on citizens’ rights.

EP coordinator for Brexit Guy Verhofstadt added:

In order to break the deadlock we now face, I believe it is important that the UK Government now seriously considers engaging with the European Parliament’s proposal for an association agreement, as catered for by Article 217 of the EU Treaty. I am convinced this will allow both the EU and the UK to unlock a lasting deep and special partnership for the future.

We look forward to receiving some further clarifications from the British Government regarding citizen’s rights, as a number of outstanding issues remain unresolved. We do not accept the United Kingdom’s negotiating position that maintains discriminations between EU citizens arriving before and after the start of the transition period. We hope the British Home Office can come to Brussels to present their proposal for a registration system for EU citizens in the UK, in the search for a solution.

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