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4. Заключения от заседанието на Европейския съвет от 10 април 2019 г. относно оттеглянето на Обединеното кралство от Европейския съюз (разискване)
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  Presidente. – L'ordine del giorno reca la discussione sulle dichiarazioni del Consiglio europeo e della Commissione sulle conclusioni della riunione del Consiglio europeo del 10 aprile 2019 sul recesso del Regno Unito dall'Unione europea (2019/2694(RSP)).

 
  
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  Donald Tusk, President of the European Council. – Mr President, from this place I would like to say words of comfort and solidarity with the whole French nation in the face of the Paris tragedy. I say these words not only as the President of the European Council, but also as a citizen of Gdańsk, 90 per cent destroyed and burnt, and later rebuilt. You will also rebuild your Cathedral. From Strasbourg, the French capital of the European Union, I call on all the 28 Member States to take part in this task.

I know that France could do it alone, but at stake here is something more than just material help. The burning of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris has again made us aware that we are bound by something more important and more profound than Treaties. Today we understand better the essence of that which is common, we know how much we can lose. And that we want to defend it – together.

Last week the European Council of 27 leaders, in agreement with the Government of the United Kingdom, granted a flexible extension of the Article 50 period until 31 October this year. This extension gives our British friends more time and political space to find a way out of the current situation. I hope that they will use this time in the best possible way.

The European Council will be awaiting a clear message from the UK on a way forward. If the Withdrawal Agreement were to be ratified, the extension period will automatically end on the first day of the following month, meaning that the UK would leave the Union on that day. It is clear to everyone that there will be no re-opening of the Withdrawal Agreement. However, to facilitate the ratification process, the EU27 is ready to reconsider the Political Declaration on the future relationship, if the UK position were to evolve.

Last week, the European Council changed the logic of granting a much shorter extension than requested by the UK, to giving an extension that is much longer. I proposed such a change, as in my view it has a few advantages. First and foremost, only a long extension ensures that all options remain on the table, such as ratification of the current Withdrawal Agreement, or extra time to rethink Brexit, if that were the wish of the British people.

Second, this extension allows the EU to focus on other priorities that are at least as important, like trade with the United States or the new EU leadership. I know that some have expressed fear that the UK might want to disrupt the EU’s functioning during this time. But the EU27 didn’t give in to such fear and scaremongering. In fact, since the very beginning of the Brexit process, the UK has been a constructive and responsible EU Member State. And so we have no reason to believe that this should change.

Third, this flexible extension delays the possibility of a no-deal Brexit by over six months. Thanks to this, millions of people and businesses have gained at least some certainty in these unstable times.

One of the consequences of our decision is that the UK will hold European elections next month. We should approach this seriously, as UK Members of the European Parliament will be there for several months, maybe longer. They will be full Members of the Parliament, with all their rights and obligations.

I am speaking about this today because I have strongly opposed the idea that during this further extension, the UK should be treated as a second-category Member State. No, it cannot. Therefore, I also ask you to reject similar ideas, if they were to be voiced in this House.

I know that on both sides of the Channel, everyone, including myself, is exhausted with Brexit, which is completely understandable. However, this is not an excuse to say: “let’s get it over with”, just because we are tired. We must continue to deal with Brexit with an open mind and in a civilised manner. Because whatever happens, we are bound by common fate, and we want to remain friends and close partners in the future.

During the European Council one of the leaders warned us not to be dreamers, and that we shouldn’t think that Brexit could be reversed. I didn’t respond at the time, but today, in front of you, I would like to say: at this rather difficult moment in our history, we need the dreamers and dreams. We cannot give in to fatalism. At least I will not stop dreaming about a better and united Europe.

Dear friends, this is our last meeting in your current term. I hope to have the opportunity to meet most of you after the elections.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Jean-Claude Juncker, président de la Commission. – Monsieur le Président, Mesdames et Messieurs les parlementaires, la journée d’hier fut terrible pour tous ceux qui aiment la France et qui aiment Paris. Pour nous tous, Paris n’est pas un endroit neutre, c’est un endroit dont nous aimons toujours retomber amoureux. Le spectacle de cette ville aux prises avec une tragédie qui n’est pas seulement architecturale, mais qui concerne la vie du peuple français, le spectacle de ce monument, Notre-Dame, symbole de la grandeur de la France, comme en témoignent ses nombreux visiteurs au fil du temps, détruit par les flammes, nous fend le cœur.

Hier, une partie importante de la France a été profondément touchée par cet événement et nous sommes en quelque sorte tous en deuil aujourd’hui. Je voudrais exprimer à nos amis français toute la sympathie de la Commission, qui s’est d’ailleurs dit prête à soutenir la France dans cette épreuve. L’Europe a été blessée, la France a été blessée, Paris a été blessé, nous avons été blessés et nous sommes solidaires de nos amis français.

Since we finished the European Council in the early hours of last Thursday, the Commission and myself, we are on a Brexit break. We are focusing on the very many other issues for our Union. We are focusing on our positive agenda. With that in mind, I want to be very brief. Last week the European Council, in an agreement with the United Kingdom, took a united and responsible decision to grant an extension of the Article 50 period until 31 October this year.

This was an acceptable outcome for three main reasons. First of all, and with the support of this House, we have adopted the necessary contingency measures and we are ready for a no—deal Brexit. But our Union has nothing to gain from great disruption in the United Kingdom. The only ones who would benefit are those who resent multilateralism and seek to undermine the global legal order, and in any case we will never kick out one of our members.

Secondly, we have protected the integrity and the functioning of this House and all our institutions. If the United Kingdom is a Member on 23 May, it must organise European elections. If it does not do so, and the Withdrawal Agreement is not ratified by 22 May, the extension ends on 31 May. This is now the legal situation.

Thirdly, we have made sure that we do not need to discuss Brexit every other week and have given the United Kingdom the time and space to find a way out of the impasse. Once the Withdrawal Agreement is in force, the Commission will work as closely together with Parliament as we did during the entire Brexit negotiations. The full transparency of our negotiations and the close and effective teamwork with the Brexit Steering Group was our strength in the Brexit negotiations and I want to continue this good practice during the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement

Whenever a decision will have to be taken in the so-called joint committee, the Commission will therefore closely involve Parliament and take utmost account of your views. We have learned to pay a lot of attention to the House of Commons over the last months, but let me be very clear, on Brexit nothing can be decided against the views of this House of European democracy. Nothing can be decided on Brexit without taking full account of the position of the European Parliament.

Meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren! Der 31. Oktober ist die neue Frist für einen geordneten Ausstieg des Vereinigten Königreichs – oder, sollte das Austrittsabkommen bis dahin nicht vom britischen Parlament ratifiziert werden, für einen harten Brexit, den wir alle vermeiden wollen. Natürlich kann Großbritannien auch entscheiden, sein Austrittsgesuch zurückzuziehen. Das hat der Europäische Gerichtshof ausdrücklich klargestellt. Aber dies ist nicht meine Arbeitshypothese. So wie es auch nicht meine Arbeitshypothese ist, dass wir über den 31. Oktober hinaus die Frist verlängern. Das ist nicht meine Arbeitshypothese.

Im Übrigen mag ich dieses Datum, 31. Oktober, überhaupt nicht. Der 31. Oktober ist mein letzter Arbeitstag als Kommissionspräsident. Es kann also am 31. Oktober keine Nachtsitzung stattfinden, weil ich um zwölf Uhr den Sitzungssaal verlassen werden muss, aber Donald Tusk kann bleiben.

Ich bin Kommissionspräsident geworden, a) weil ich das werden wollte und b) weil ich die europäischen Dinge beschleunigen wollte. Weil ich gerne gehabt hätte, dass wir in Sachen soziales Europa weiterkommen. Wir sind weitergekommen, aber nicht weit genug, weil ich auch die notwendige Reform der Wirtschafts- und Währungsunion zum Abschluss bringen wollte. Weil ich gerne gehabt hätte, dass wir uns in Sachen Finanzierung der nächsten Periode 2021–2028 verständigen können.

Und ich möchte nicht, dass die vielen Forscher, die vielen Jugendlichen, Erasmusstudenten und andere, zum Opfer dieser Brexitgeschichte werden. Sie haben Besseres verdient, und wir müssen dafür sorgen, dass wir sie nicht weiter von Europa entfernen. Die Antwort, welchen Weg Großbritannien einschlagen wird, muss jedenfalls aus London kommen – je früher, desto besser.

Ich begrüße es sehr, dass die Regierung und die Opposition sich jetzt in einem Gesprächsmodus befinden. Das wird als Fortschritt gefeiert – ist im britischen Kontext ja auch ein Fortschritt. Normal ist es aber nicht, dass die tragenden Kräfte so spät zueinander finden. Das ist nicht normal! Und ich begrüße es deshalb, dass diese Gespräche jetzt endlich stattfinden.

Wann die Briten die Europäische Union verlassen, liegt allein in ihrer Hand. Wie die Briten die Europäische Union verlassen, darauf haben wir uns im November 2018 in Form des Austrittsabkommens mit der britischen Regierung verständigt. Dieses Verhandlungsergebnis gilt auch weiterhin. Zu keinem Zeitpunkt werden Nachverhandlungen über das Austrittsabkommen stattfinden. Über die politische Erklärung zur Zukunft der Europäischen Union können wir reden, wenn dieser Wunsch besteht.

Monsieur le Président, Mesdames et Messieurs les députés, le Brexit n’est pas l’avenir de l’Union européenne. L’avenir de notre Union va bien au-delà du Brexit, qui ne doit pas et ne peut pas entraver nos travaux sur nos grandes priorités. C’est la raison pour laquelle le Conseil européen s’est mis d’accord sur deux principes. Premièrement, tant que le Royaume-Uni sera membre de l’Union européenne, nous comptons sur une coopération constructive, responsable et loyale. C’est un principe directeur du traité qu’il faudra que nous respections.

We do not only respect; we are requesting that there will be a loyal and responsible cooperation.

Deuxièmement, il n’y a pas d’État membre de second rang, mais si un État membre souhaite quitter l’Union européenne, les 27 autres doivent avoir le droit de se réunir séparément pour aborder les questions futures. Ce n’est pas une nouveauté. En décembre 1997, lorsque j’étais président du Conseil européen, j’ai lancé l’Eurogroupe – contre l’avis des Britanniques, des Danois, des Suédois et de quelques autres. Cet Eurogroupe, ce groupe restreint composé de ceux qui se sentent concernés et qui sont concernés par la construction monétaire de l’Europe, avait le droit de se réunir. Il s’est réuni et les résultats ont été appréciables.

L’Union européenne a devant elle des défis stratégiques auxquels elle doit répondre. Tout d’abord, nous discuterons à Sibiu, en mai, de l’orientation stratégique de l’Union européenne pour les années à venir. Ensuite, il y a le prochain budget pluriannuel dont nous devons, en principe, décider en octobre. Il y a par ailleurs l’élection des futurs dirigeants de l’Union européenne. Après le Parlement européen, élu par le plus grand corps électoral après celui de l’Inde, nous devrons élire un nouveau président de la Commission et le Conseil européen devra nommer un nouveau président du Conseil.

L’avenir de notre Union, c’est notre place dans le monde, ce sont nos accords commerciaux, nos relations avec nos grands partenaires internationaux, notamment la Chine, avec laquelle nous avons eu la semaine dernière un sommet très constructif. En juin prochain, il y aura le G20 à Osaka, où nous parlerons notamment de l’avenir du commerce mondial. Tout cela, à vrai dire, est plus important que les péripéties autour du Brexit. L’Europe continue.

(Applaudissements)

Commission Declaration for the European Parliament plenary

(in writing)

The Commission recalls its commitment to ensure that the European Parliament is immediately and fully informed, in line with Article 218(10) TFEU, in relation to the work of the Joint Committee and the specialised committees established by the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (“the Withdrawal Agreement”).

For the European Parliament to be in a position to exercise fully its institutional prerogatives throughout the process in accordance with the Treaties, the Commission will ensure that the Parliament receives sufficient and timely information ahead and after the meetings of the Joint Committee or the specialised committees of the Withdrawal Agreement.

Moreover, the Commission considers that given the exceptional nature of the Withdrawal Agreement based on Article 50 TEU, an adequate involvement of the European Parliament is necessary in case the Joint Committee would envisage to adopt any of the following decisions:

- the decision to extend the transition period in accordance with Article 132 of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the determination of the financial contribution referred therein,

- the decision referred to in Article 159(3) of the Withdrawal Agreement relating to the abolition of the United Kingdom independent authority monitoring the implementation and application of Part Two of the Withdrawal Agreement on citizens’ rights;

- a decision referred to in Article 20 of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland that the Protocol in whole or in part shall cease to apply.

Therefore, in relation to these decisions, the Commission will inform sufficiently in advance the European Parliament of its intention to present a proposal for a decision on the position to take in the Joint Committee, and of the gist of its envisaged proposal. The Commission will take utmost account of possible comments of the European Parliament in that respect. It commits, in case it does not follow EP position, to explain the reasons for which it did not.

The Commission understands that, in view of the short time frame available, the matter will be handled in the European Parliament as a matter of urgency.

The Commission will, thereafter, transmit its proposal to the European Parliament for information at the same time as it transmits it to the Council for adoption in accordance with Article 218(9) TFEU.

The Commission recalls that these practical arrangements have to be seen in the context of the exceptional nature of an agreement based on Article 50 TEU and do not constitute a precedent for any other agreements.

 
  
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  Presidente. – Voglio ricordare ai colleghi che durante la riunione del Consiglio io ho insistito sulla dignità del Parlamento, sul ruolo che il nostro Parlamento ha, non si può usare come un taxi, quindi anche in tutta la trattativa sulla Brexit bisognerà tenere conto del ruolo della nostra Istituzione.

Questa per noi è una priorità, credo di poter parlare a nome di tutti i colleghi, siamo la prima Istituzione del Trattato e pretendiamo di essere rispettati da tutti e 28 gli Stati membri.

Grazie, la parola a nome del gruppo del Partito popolare europeo all'on. González Pons.

 
  
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  Esteban González Pons, en nombre del Grupo PPE. – Señor presidente, tengo que hablar del dolor que sentí ayer viendo arder la catedral de Notre-Dame. El incendio de Notre-Dame nos dolió a los europeos como si todos fuéramos franceses: sentimos todos la misma desolación, nos sentimos todos igual de desamparados y, esta mañana, todos queremos sumarnos a la reconstrucción.

Los pueblos no crecen llorando juntos, sino avanzando juntos. Por eso, el incendio de ayer de Notre-Dame nos hace más europeos no porque lloramos juntos, sino porque juntos vamos a reconstruir la catedral.

La Unión Europea debería comprometerse hoy a aportar ayuda económica y artesanos —todos los que sean necesarios— para volver a construir la catedral tal y como se construían las catedrales en el pasado, sumando a todos en el proyecto.

El incendio de Notre-Dame nos recuerda que los europeos nunca estamos solos. Europa es la respuesta al fuego, a la destrucción, al egoísmo y a la pobreza. Por eso anoche, viendo arder la catedral, volví a preguntarme una vez más: «Pero, ¿por qué quieren marcharse de aquí los británicos?».

La Unión Europea es una comunidad de principios y valores. Si te parece que no funciona, los reformas e intentas arreglarlos, pero no te marchas. No te marchas porque los valores no dejan de compartirse y porque en ningún caso se negocian.

Ocurra lo que ocurra hay tres lecciones que hemos aprendido del Brexit: primero, en política no se puede prometer lo que no se puede cumplir; segundo, en política las mentiras siempre traen decepciones; y, tercero, los lazos que forja la historia no pueden romperse por egoísmo económico.

Nadie desea un Brexit duro, pero peor es un Brexit indefinido y sin fecha. Para mí, Europa está incompleta sin el Reino Unido, pero si los políticos británicos no son capaces de encontrar una solución, que le devuelvan la voz al pueblo.

El incendio de Notre-Dame, también nos demuestra que hablamos demasiado del Brexit y demasiado poco de todo lo demás. Lo siento por la vanidad de los políticos británicos, pero hoy mi dolor por el fuego de Notre-Dame me hace más europeo que mi indignación por su incompetencia.

 
  
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  Udo Bullmann, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Mr President, this morning we stand united when we look at Paris. We rightly say that Notre—Dame is our case. We rightly say ‘Paris, you are not alone. The French nation is not alone’. This is our manifestation of European solidarity.

In this spirit of European solidarity, I have to applaud President Tusk. You took the responsibility of granting the United Kingdom this extension because, by doing so, you avoided a cliff—edge crash. Who would have paid the price of the cliff edge crashing? Who would have paid the price? Not the liars, not the ideologists, not those with the false promises. Ordinary citizens in the UK would have paid the price, citizens who have to rely on a decent job in this interwoven economy, which is more interwoven than it has ever been before in the single market. Those responsible know this exactly. They were playing with the fate of the citizens in their country. This is wrong and this was avoided by President Juncker and President Tusk, by the European Council, by responsible decision makers, and this is a good signal.

President Tusk, I also applaud you for what you were saying about the rights of Member States as long as they are members. This is all the more true for the rights of the representatives in this House. This is not a party politics issue. This is an issue of the decency of our constituencies and the decency of our democratic processes. We will of course welcome our representatives from the United Kingdom, and of course they will have the same rights as everybody else here in this House. My party and group will protect that, in any case, in each and every situation.

Ich bin davon überzeugt, dass wir auch nach dem 23. Mai im Vereinigten Königreich eine neue Diskussion haben werden. Es wird der Anfang vom Ende des Brexit sein, davon bin ich überzeugt, denn endlich werden die Menschen in Großbritannien auch die Chance haben, sich zu diesem Vorgang zu äußern. Denn wir sind nach wie vor in der Situation, dass das Parlament blockiert ist. Ich war immer der Auffassung, dass man in einer solchen Situation die Menschen fragen muss, wenn der Preis für den falschen Schritt klar auf dem Tisch ist, was sie am Ende des Tages davon halten. „Taking back control“ heißt, die Menschen fragen, nicht die Ideologen fragen. Machen Sie sich das bitte immer wieder klar!

Ich bin der Überzeugung, dass es hier um mehr geht. Brexit geht nicht nur um Großbritannien, Brexit geht nicht nur um die anderen, die in der Europäischen Union bleiben wollen. Brexit geht um sehr viel mehr. Es ist die Frage, ob die Putins und Trumps, die Steve Bannons und die Salvinis das kaputtmachen können, was von Robert Schuman und Jean Monnet, von Konrad Adenauer und Willy Brandt aufgebaut worden ist – darum geht es im Eigentlichen. Und deswegen werden wir diese Europäische Union verteidigen, weil sie die richtige Antwort auf die großen Zukunftsfragen ist.

Meine Fraktion steht dazu bereit. Sie sehen in Finnland, Sie sehen in Schweden, dass wir diejenigen sind, die Europa zusammenhalten, wenn die Rechtsradikalen dagegen trommeln. Ich wünschte mir Partner, die das auch tun. Die Europäische Volkspartei muss beantworten, wo sie in Andalusien steht, wo sie steht bei den nächsten Regional- und Lokalwahlen in Italien, ob bei den Europäern oder bei denen, die Europa zerschlagen wollen. Unser Job ist klar: Wir Sozialdemokraten verteidigen diese Europäische Union und werden sie in die Zukunft führen.

 
  
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  Syed Kamall, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, when you look at the pictures last night of Notre-Dame burning, in times like this it’s time to put aside politics and wherever you are, whether you are British, European or from the rest of the world, many people shared sorrow when they saw those pictures.

Personally, 25 years ago my wife studied in France and she worked in Paris for a while and we used to go to Notre-Dame. It’s an iconic building and we were only there last month and we took photographs of it, bringing back fond memories. Think of the millions of people over the years who have stood and watched that building, whatever their faith, looked at it and it’s been a symbol not only of Paris but of the history of Europe, but also the whole feeling it gives. And even though it’s a building not of my faith, I share the pain of many of you in this Chamber today and I hope that we can all come together, whether British, European or from outside Europe, come together and do our bit in that rebuilding.

Many of us had hoped that we wouldn’t be having this debate today and that the UK would have left the EU on 29 March, or even last week, but we have to deal with life as it is. The British Government is still committed to delivering Brexit in an orderly way ...

(Laughter)

... and leaving the European Union as soon as possible, so that the people in the UK and the EU can focus on the future, or what Jean—Claude Juncker referred to as a ‘positive agenda’.

However, I realise that your patience has worn thin and that you look and wonder what is happening in Westminster. But EU membership has been a divisive issue in our country for many years, not just in my party but in the main opposition party too, and you can see these divisions playing out, and I know many people here will ask: well, why didn’t you begin cross-party talks sooner? And while that may seem natural to most people in this Chamber, this is not how the UK system of parliamentary democracy works.

You only have to look at the House of Commons, where the two parties sit opposite each other rather than side by side as in this Parliament. On one side sits the government, on the other the opposition, and rather than seeking to build coalitions across, it’s a much more adversarial style of politics. So the current talks are naturally uncomfortable for members of both main parties, myself included.

The Article 50 extension agreed at last week’s Council may not have been the answer everyone, or perhaps anyone, wanted, but it gives us more time to pursue all the options in search of a breakthrough and I hope that my colleagues in Westminster do not take too long. Our economy, our politics and our country need certainty and we must aim to find a solution in time to avoid participating in the European elections. The time has now come for pragmatism. Let’s get it done.

I’d like to thank Mr Tusk for his more constructive approach last week compared to, say, some of his more recent statements. I think, Mr Tusk, that your words in advance of the Council struck the right chord, that this shouldn’t be about recriminations or humiliations, and that to remain friends and move forward we have to build a future partnership that can truly stand the test of time.

As a country the UK has been in difficult positions before, but we have a reputation for seeing things through and I believe that this time will be no different.

I just wonder if I could end on a personal note. This may be my last speech from this seat or in this Chamber after nearly 14 years and can I just say to my colleagues that whether we have agreed or disagreed over the years, whether you are re-elected or moving on to new challenges, can I thank you all for your service. Can I thank you all for being part of this amazing experience and can I wish you all the very best for the future.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Guy Verhofstadt, au nom du groupe ALDE. – Monsieur le Président, tout d’abord, tout comme mes collègues et comme le président Tusk et le président Juncker, je tiens à exprimer ma douleur face au grave incendie qui a eu lieu hier soir à Paris. Je suis sûr qu’ensemble nous allons faire renaître Notre-Dame de Paris. Elle rayonnera à nouveau, plus belle encore que par le passé, cette Notre-Dame de Paris, qui est Notre-Dame de France, Notre-Dame d’Europe; j’en suis sûr.

I know that this Parliament has, in fact, no say in the decision that you made on Wednesday, but nevertheless, I want to warn you for one thing and that is for the consequences of the decision of last week, because, until now, we kept the unity in the European Union – the unity among the 27 Member States, but also the unity between the three institutions, the Council, the Parliament and the Commission, and unity built around our negotiator, I want to recall that here today, Mr Michel Barnier, who I want to applaud here for all the work he has done.

(Applause)

This unity, in my opinion, Mr Tusk, I have to tell you that very frankly, is at risk now. Instead of sending Mrs May back to London with no extension at all, or maybe with an ultimately very short one – a few days, a week – you gave her six months. But six months, everybody knows that 31 October is in fact too near for a substantial rethink of Brexit, and at the same time, too far away to prompt any action. That’s the problem with the decision that has been taken. I would not go so far as Mr Coburn here who would call it rubbish and because he calls everything rubbish in Parliament, but I fear that it will continue the uncertainty. I fear that it will prolong the indecision, and I fear most of all that it will import the Brexit mess into the European Union. And, moreover, that it will poison the upcoming European election. Moreover, my fear is that it will make from this Parliament that we say that in Dutch, I don’t know if you have that expression, a pigeon house – a dovecoat – the British Members flying in, the British Members flying out, and at the same time, waiting on the substitute benches, a number of Members of 14 other European countries. Banksy, colleagues, has already done a work on this. He painted the house in Westminster as a house a full of monkeys. He could be inspired to maybe make a second work, to paint this Hemicycle in Strasbourg full of pigeons.

My fear, Mr Tusk, is that, with this decision, the pressure to come to a cross–party agreement, as Mr Kamall has talked about, disappears, as we (inaudible) the last days and that both parties, Conservatives and Labour, will again do what they did already for months – run down the clock – and the proof of this is, was that the first decision the House of Commons have taken after your decision was to go on holidays.

So really – and I never thought I should say that in my life here in this Parliament – but maybe the only thing that can save us now is Nigel Farage. Why? As you will hear today, he’s already campaigning. He’s already rallying with a new party, the Brexit Party, catching up with the Conservatives in the polls and the old parties, Labour and the Conservatives risk to be wiped out during the European election. My advice to you Mr Corbett is that, if they are not stupid, both parties should make a cross-party deal now, immediately, in the coming days, to avoid this imminent disaster.

Finally, Mr Tusk, in the aftermath of the decision, you said something and you have repeated it a few moments ago, you said we may avoid Britain leaving the EU, and I’m against Brexit and leaving the EU, but it’s not our decision. It was a decision of the British people. So what my fear is that instead of killing Brexit, the decision could risk killing Europe. At least bogging it down again for years, putting our energy in negotiations with British leaders like Mr Corbyn or Mr Johnson, who, in fact, in their hearts, despise Europe, and this at the moment when we need all our energy, to put all our energy in the reform, in the renewal of our European Union. That is what we, and you also, should solely focus on as President of the European Council. And that spirit was, in my opinion, absent last week, Wednesday.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MAIREAD McGUINNESS
Vice-President

 
  
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  Gabriele Zimmer, im Namen der GUE/NGL-Fraktion. – Meine Herren und Damen Präsidenten, liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen! Ich glaube, es gibt Momente, in denen Wahlkampfauseinandersetzungen einfach mal ganz kurz gestoppt werden sollten. Der Brand gestern in Paris hat uns gezeigt, wie verletzlich unsere Welt, wie verletzlich Europa, wie verletzlich Kultur, Geschichte und auch unsere Zukunft sind. Das ist mehr als das, was wir hier manchmal unter uns austragen. Notre-Dame ist ein Symbol – ein Symbol für Europa, ein Symbol für Frankreich.

Ich habe mich als Ostdeutsche vor vielen Jahren entschieden, Französisch zu lernen – und zwar vor 45 Jahren –, gerade weil ich ahnte, dass ich vielleicht nie die Möglichkeit haben werde, nach Paris zu kommen und Notre-Dame zu sehen. Für mich ist das ein Schock. Ich möchte allen französischen Kolleginnen und Kollegen hier im Parlament – und zwar unabhängig von den Fraktionen – sagen, dass wir eng bei ihnen stehen und dass wir aber auch einfordern – einfordern, dass wir uns dieser Verletzlichkeit bewusst sind, auch der Verletzlichkeit der Europäischen Union.

Das hat etwas mit dem zu tun, was wir jetzt diskutieren. Ich bin überhaupt nicht damit einverstanden und freue mich überhaupt nicht über das Ergebnis des letzten Gipfels – ich finde es fatal. Ich finde es fatal, weil auch ich der Meinung bin: Entweder, wir kriegen mal eine Entscheidung – dafür oder dagegen, Austritt oder kein Austritt. Aber sechs Monate heißen: Sie setzen dieses Europäische Parlament und vor allem den demokratischen Vorgang der Europawahlen aufs Spiel. Der hat überhaupt keine Rolle bei Ihren Entscheidungen gespielt, überhaupt keine.

Wenn sich am 2. Juli das neue Parlament konstituiert, dann beginnt danach die Sommerpause. Im September fängt die Konstituierung des Parlaments im Wesentlichen an, die Arbeitsfähigkeit. Ja, wir wollen allen britischen Kolleginnen und Kollegen, die dann im Parlament sind, auch volle Rechte gewähren. Heißt das, wir müssen von Anfang an einen Plan B machen, wir müssen die Ausschüsse doppelt berechnen? Denn es könnte ja sein, einen Monat, nachdem die Arbeitsfähigkeit hergestellt wird, gehen alle wieder raus, dann kommen andere nach, dann verändert sich die Zusammensetzung der Fraktionen. Haben Sie darüber mal nachgedacht?

Haben Sie darüber nachgedacht, wie wir denn Menschen begeistern sollen, zur Europawahl zu gehen – und das ist in jedem Land schwer genug –, wenn wir von vornherein einfach wissen, es ist ein Zirkus, den wir hier abziehen? Deshalb bleibe ich dabei: Entweder gleich, oder Sie hätten fünf Jahre vorschlagen sollen – eine ganze Wahlperiode.

 
  
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  Molly Scott Cato, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Madam President, well it’s Easter and we’re still here, and I and millions of my fellow British citizens couldn’t be more delighted about that. For me it’s …

(Applause)

... absolutely wonderful to be able to see through the mandate that I was given by the people of South-West England and Gibraltar in 2014. I’m equally delighted that the UK will be holding European elections in May and the Greens are going to use these democratic and proportional elections as a celebration of the values of the European Union. We will mobilise one of the most powerful pro-European forces in our continent and we will champion a fairer, greener, and more democratic EU.

I’d like to thank the Council, and particularly President Tusk, for allowing us the breathing space to reconsider our vote to leave the EU. Building Europe has never been easy and he has shown the vision of the founding fathers, who persevered in difficult times to welcome and even include those countries which were having difficulties at home, perhaps particularly those countries.

As a Green MEP I’ve always been tough on Brexit but we also need to be tough on the causes of Brexit. We must address the issues that gave rise to feelings of powerlessness, of alienation, of being left behind, that prompted so many of our fellow citizens to vote to leave in 2016. So I wish my colleagues happy campaigns. Let’s share a message of hope about the positive change that the European Parliament can bring to their lives. Let’s resist the siren song of the far right with its politics of division, hate and fear.

In Britain, a strong pro-European vote across the country will massively increase the chances of winning a future people’s vote and convincing our fellow citizens that our best future is as part of the European family.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Nigel Farage, on behalf of the EFDD Group. – Madam President, well I have tried for 20 years to do myself out of this job and I thought I’d succeeded. Little did I realise what the UK political class would do, so the morning message is: I’m coming back. In fact lots and lots of us are coming back because Mr Verhofstadt is right. Yes, I said that. First time ever! You’re quite right, the Brexit party will sweep the board in these elections and there is only one way it can be stopped and that is if the governing party of Ms May and the opposition of Mr Corbyn come together and agree to a permanent customs union and indeed effectively membership of the single market.

If that happens, the Brexit party won’t win the European elections but it will win the general election ...

(Applause from certain quarters)

... because the betrayal will be so complete and utter.

So I don’t believe it’s going to happen, and in 15 years as a joint or sole president of a group, I have been to dozens of European summits and again and again I’ve seen conflict between nation states and the European institutions, whether it was the Austrians, or the Irish, or the Hungarians, or indeed the Greeks. And there is one golden rule, always, and that is that Brussels wins. The power and might of Brussels always wins.

But I’ve never been to a European summit quite like last week, where for the second time in two weeks a British prime minister comes along and begs, begs for an extension to Article 50. It was humiliating, not just to be in Brussels, but humiliating for the standing of our country around the world. You know, the Commonwealth, America, many of these countries that actually like us, still believe that we are a great nation and yet we have sunk to this: a Prime Minister that promised us we’d leave on 29 March, that then said we might leave on 12 April, that we would definitely leave on 30 June, and now we’re being told we’ll leave on 31 October.

Halloween trick or treaty, make your minds up and if it’s your last day, Mr Juncker, well I hope that we leave together on that day. But actually, if it’s left to this appalling Prime Minister, if it’s left to our politicians in Parliament, I know that it’s not going to happen.

In the past, I know I’ve always criticised the power without accountability of senior bureaucrats in Brussels, but for once I have to say that this mess is not your fault. Your position has been clear from the start. The mess is the fault of British politics, of two parties which both promised us in their manifestos they would deliver Brexit, which signed up to Article 50, which expressly said we would leave with or without a deal.

That is where the betrayal is and I do share Members’ great sadness about the appalling tragedy of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris being burnt down yesterday – something very beautiful has been lost – but something very vital is being lost in the United Kingdom and I thought the deaths column of The Times newspaper yesterday summed it up rather well: ‘UK Democracy, on 29th March 2019, aged 312. It was with sad regret that Democracy died quietly in her sleep at 11pm, on the 29th March 2019. The cause of death was by foul play and the culprits have yet to be brought to justice. Democracy campaigned for the rule of law, human rights [...] and [always] favoured the majority in all her decisions. She will be sorely missed. God have mercy on [our] soul.’

What is happening in British politics, beginning on 23 May isn’t now just about Brexit, isn’t now just about us leaving the European Union. It’s about what kind of country we are. We have the oldest, longest serving continuous parliament in the world. The mother of parliaments. We have fought and given much for that principle of nation state democracy, not just for us but for our friends in Europe too.

I sense among some in my country disillusionment. But in others I sense a burning anger. Not one to put on yellow vests and protest, but one that says we need a peaceful political revolution in our country. We need to sweep away the two—party system that has let us down so badly, and I think you’re all going to be very surprised by what happens on 23 May. It will be a new future for British democracy and goodness me, it’s needed.

(Applause from certain quarters)

 
  
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  President. – I have received some blue-card requests, but because the President has set the precedent, we don’t give blue-card requests during the leaders’ speeches.

 
  
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  Gerard Batten, on behalf of the ENF Group. – Madam President, (inaudible) would never be happening if the referendum decision of 2016 had been honoured, then Britain would have left long ago. Instead, the democratic decision of 17.4 million people is being deliberately and cynically betrayed. The European elections in May will inevitably be a re-run of the referendum question. Whatever the political parties say, the voters’ choice will boil down to voting ‘do we remain in the European Union’ or ‘do we leave the European Union’. The Remainers should vote for the Liberal Democrats. They are the true party of Remain. Leavers should vote for the UK Independence party; UKIP is the true party of Leave. Voting Conservative or Labour is truly a wasted vote because nobody, including them, actually knows where they stand on this issue. UKIP’s policy is clear and straightforward. It is one of unilateral and unconditional withdrawal. But these elections will divide people into two distinct groups, not just in the UK but across Europe. One group will be those who consent to be governed by a foreign power: The European Union. The second group will be those who vote to rebel against further EU integration and in favour of returning democratic powers to the nation state. One group will be voting for freedom and independence. The other group will be voting for subservience and submission. One thing that we can be sure of is that Eurosceptic MEPs will return in big numbers and their voters will be voting for a return to democratic accountability, an end to austerity measures and for their economies to be run in their interests and for their benefit. They will be voting to end mass uncontrolled immigration. They will be voting for parties that want to preserve their cultures and their civilisation. There will be a great populist vote across Europe. In the United Kingdom we have the simplest choice: vote to remain or vote to leave. It was the electoral threat of the UK Independence Party that brought about the referendum in the first place, and UKIP will continue to fight to make Brexit happen. UKIP MEPs elected on the 23 May will continue the political struggle to set Britain free from the European Union, and a vote for UKIP on 23 May will send a clear message to Her Majesty’s Government: leave on WTO terms immediately. UKIP does not just campaign for Brexit; we actually want to make it happen. A vote for UKIP is always a vote to leave the European Union and the British public should vote UKIP on 23 May.

 
  
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  Kazimierz Michał Ujazdowski (NI). – Pani Przewodnicząca! Widok płonącej katedry Notre-Dame był dojmujący. Jednocześnie pokazaliśmy, że jesteśmy wspólnotą pragnącą żyć. Wspólnotą, o której Ortega y Gasset pisał, iż żyje podskórnie, a w momentach nadzwyczajnych przejawia wolę swojej egzystencji.

Chcę podziękować Radzie Europejskiej i jej przewodniczącemu za racjonalne decyzje w sprawie przedłużenia terminu. To zapobiega wstrząsowi i katastrofalnym skutkom. Tylko ktoś, kto źle życzy Wielkiej Brytanii i Europie, może nie rozumieć tych decyzji. Nie dziwię się panu Farage’owi, bo trzyma się stałej, egoistycznej linii w tej sprawie, ale bardzo się dziwię panu Verhofstadtowi, który jest przeciwny tej decyzji i zachowuje się tak, jakby chciał wypchnąć Brytyjczyków z Unii Europejskiej. Po raz kolejny dogmatyczny federalizm współpracuje z eurosceptycyzmem. Ten sojusz Farage-Verhofstadt nie jest tutaj przypadkowy.

Przyszłością Unii Europejskiej jest zaufanie do integracji europejskiej i pragmatyczna formuła współpracy. Wierzę, że władze unijne następnej kadencji pójdą tą drogą.

 
  
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  Elmar Brok (PPE). – Frau Präsidentin, Herr Ratspräsident, Herr Kommissionspräsident, Kolleginnen und Kollegen! Werden wir im Oktober eine neue Lage haben, oder werden wir dann in derselben Situation sein wie heute, weil die Dinge sich nicht aufgelöst haben? Ich hoffe, dass Corbyn und May einen Deal finden. Jedenfalls sollte man sich im House of Commons anstrengen, eine konstruktive Lösung so oder so zu finden: drin zu bleiben oder rauszugehen, möglichst nicht mit einem hard Brexit hinauszugehen und nicht dieses unwürdige Spiel fortzusetzen.

Wir brauchen in diesem Haus die Fähigkeit, mit den großen Aufgaben der Zukunft voranzukommen, mit den Fragen, die wir uns stellen – von Migration über die Handelskriege, die Fragen der inneren und äußeren Sicherheit, die Fragen, die mit Klimawandel zu tun haben und manchem anderen. Wir müssen klarstellen, dass die Europäische Union die alleinige Kraft ist, um gemeinsam bei der Verteilung dieser Welt, die die Trumps und Xis und Putins betreiben, Europa zu retten, uns voranzubringen, uns dastehen zu lassen als eigene Kraft, und nicht die Zersplitterung des Nationalismus, der hier wieder von einigen der Redner gepredigt worden ist.

Dieses Europa steht für Solidarität, für Frieden und Freiheit, für Menschlichkeit, für wirtschaftlichen Erfolg. Und dieses Europa hat dies, glaube ich, in hervorragender Weise bisher geleistet. Dies ist heute meine letzte Rede in diesem Haus – nach 39 Jahren –, und ich möchte feststellen, dass dieses Europa eine Erfolgsgeschichte ist. Als ich Mitglied wurde, waren wir neun Mitglieder in einer Zollunion, die nicht richtig funktionierte. Heute sind wir 28 Mitglieder mit einem Parlament, das alles zu sagen hat. Damals hatten wir nichts zu sagen. Dieses Parlament muss dieser Würde gerecht werden, der Macht, die wir erreicht haben, und das muss den Wählern auch mitgeteilt werden.

Notre-Dame, das ist nicht nur ein schönes Gebäude, das ist ein Gebäude des geistigen und geistlichen Europas, des Christentums, das zu uns Europäern gehört. Ich erinnere mich noch an die Bilder, als Präsident Mitterrand dort seine Trauerfeier hatte, und an einen weinenden Helmut Kohl. Dieses war und ist das Europa, das uns voranbringt und die Untaten der Geschichte hinter uns lässt. Lasst uns dieses Europa nicht zerstören! Präsident Mitterrand hat in diesem Haus gesagt: Nationalismus heißt Krieg! Das sollten wir immer im Auge behalten.

(Die Abgeordneten erheben sich von ihren Plätzen und spenden dem Redner Beifall.)

 
  
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  President. – Thank you, Mr Brok. This is your last speech in this Chamber. You have served us well and I hope you do not completely forget about European politics. You will be looking at it from afar. Thank you, and I think the House has honoured you with the applause.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Richard Corbett (S&D). – Madam President, may I also join those people who have commented on Notre-Dame, and in particular your words, Mr Tusk, on sharing the pain of the French people, when you said we are bound by more than just treaties.

That’s very true, and that’s why I was so shocked when you said that, that Mr Farage – who’s no longer with us, as usual – shouted out ‘rubbish’. I think that illustrates the attitude of some of those on that side of the House. But they are the voices of the past. The British people are beginning to see through the lies that they have told for years about the European Union. They’re beginning to see through the lies they have told about Brexit. Remember they told us it would be easy; well it’s turning out to be pretty complicated. They told us it would save lots of money that would all go to the National Health Service; it’s turning out to cost a fortune. They said there would be new trade deals ready with countries across the planet to replace any lost trade with Europe; in fact we’re losing all the trade deals we have via the European Union if we go ahead with Brexit. The British people are beginning to see through that, and that is why they are so afraid of having another referendum, because they know what the answer would be if we had one.

(Applause)

And that’s also why the Conservatives are (inaudible passage) European elections, because they know they would be hammered in those elections. I’m a bit surprised that Mr Verhofstadt and some others in this House were afraid of those elections. There’s no need to be afraid. The majority of British Members being returned will not be of the ilk of those on that side of the House.

(Mixed reactions)

And in any case, Brexit – the European Union losing a Member State for the first time in its history – the consequences of that decision are far more significant than the inconvenience of one Group having a few more Members than another Group in these elections. Have a sense of perspective.

(Applause)

This extension must be used, as Mr Tusk rightly said. I have no great hopes for the talks between the two front benches, because Mrs May cannot move position without a rebellion in her party. But it does give us the time to go back to the people and end this damned mess that we have got ourselves into.

(Applause)

 
  
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  James Nicholson (ECR). – Madam President, can I also identify with the remarks to the French people here this morning and I think we all have a feeling for them at this moment.

The latest development in kicking the can down the road as far as possible just happened last week. Yes, the extension gives the opportunity to really address the real problem and you’ll not be surprised, Mr Barnier, I still consider that problem to be the backstop. I’ll not change that. It has haunted these negotiations since the beginning and will continue to do so as long as you retain your position. I have to say, the extension to October, I can see no agreement at the end of that time. I really believe now it will take a new Commission. It will take a new Parliament. It will take new views to bring an answer to the end of this problem. My view has always been simply, if you’re part of a club, you should be in the club. They cannot be half in the club or half out of it and that is the trouble where the UK found itself.

If I may – Mr Brok has gone – this will be my last speech, not maybe, will be my last speech in this Parliament after 30 years and I want to take the opportunity to say that it has been a great pleasure and honour to represent the people of Northern Ireland in this House for 30 years. There have been some good times and some extremely sad times where we have been through some of the most terrible terrorism ever faced in any part of Europe, and I had to go through that. But it was this House, it was Jacques Delors who stood by the people of Northern Ireland when he brought about – and when Ian Paisley and John Hume and I went to see him back in 1994 at the beginning of the peace process – he asked us, how can Europe help you? And Europe did, with over 2 billion extra funds that touched many people up and down the length and breadth of Northern Ireland.

So, as I say farewell to this Parliament today, I can say I have enjoyed myself. I hope I have given it something and I hope I have represented my people well during my time here because they are a proud people, they are a great people, the people of Northern Ireland.

(Applause)

 
  
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  President. – Thank you very much, Mr Nicholson, and as somebody who worked with you and works with you on the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, can I say you have been a very constructive colleague, looking after the interests of those you represent for over thirty years, and we wish you well. We thought your last speech previously was going to be the final one, but you’ve had an opportunity – a day extra. So, thank you Mr Nicholson, and I am apologising to the time-keepers here. I am in trouble already.

 
  
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  Martina Anderson (GUE/NGL). – Madam President, nothing has changed: London violates the Good Friday Agreement, Dublin continues to leave the North behind, six more months of uncertainty as the British push back on what they agreed in December 2017. Their Brexit violates and involves stripping people of their rights, including the right to vote – a demand that was at the core of the civil rights movement. So we are facing an election that the Tories and the DUP did not want; an election that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil didn’t want the people in the North to vote in.

So let’s send a clear message to London, Dublin, and Brussels. Let’s pass judgement on this Brexit chaos, on this act of wanton political vandalism. All voters in Ireland, by electing Sinn Féin MEPs, can also take a step towards a democratic way out of this Brexit mess: a step on the democratic pathway back into the EU for the North of Ireland and another sensible, rational, logical step towards Irish unity.

(The speaker agree to take a blue—card question under Rule 162(8))

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE), blue-card question. – I don’t, as you know, normally take issue with colleagues – in fact this is only the second blue card in 10 years in Parliament – but when I hear Ms Anderson saying that Dublin has left the North behind, when everybody knows that the Irish Government did everything possible with our colleagues Michel Barnier and others, how can she say that when Sinn Féin themselves don’t take their seats anywhere?

 
  
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  Martina Anderson (GUE/NGL), blue-card answer. – Well, I think you’ll find I’m taking my seat here, and Sinn Féin has been very clear with regard to the position of the Dublin government. The Irish Government is only one of a few Member States here in the European Parliament that deprives its Irish rightholders of the right to vote in European elections when they don’t reside in their Member State.

You would know, Seán, that in the North of Ireland my mother, my mother’s generation and people like that went to London with John Hume to fight for one man, one vote. Your party thought that they could give us Mark Durkan – one man, no vote. You know nothing about ...

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  Alyn Smith (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, as a Scottish and UK Member, it turns out reports of our demise were greatly exaggerated, but I am grateful to the Council for the time, as President Tusk said, to find a way out of this, and President Tusk – to paraphrase John Lennon – you may say that you’re a dreamer, but you’re not the only one. There’s plenty dreamers in Scotland, there’s plenty dreamers in the UK who know that the best Brexit is no Brexit. So thank you for the time to find our way out of this.

(Applause)

But turning to the European elections, which my party is preparing for and looking forward to, I have a warning and a plea – learn the lessons of Brexit. The ingredients of Brexit exists in all our countries. Populism is on the rise. Misinformation, populism is a risk to all of us and I have to say frankly the UK’s democracy is in trouble, and I urge you to send international observers to make sure our European elections are properly conducted, because I don’t have faith in our domestic authorities. It’s proven the leave campaigns lied, it’s proven they broke electoral law, data protection law, campaign finance rules, and there is every indication they will do it again. This election is going to be a fight for Europe. It’s going to be a flight for international solidarity. My party and Scotland stands ready. You can count on us. I hope that we can count on you also.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Julie Girling (PPE). – Madam President, I’d like to thank everybody here for their patience and statesmanship at the highest level, and I’d like to single out Mr Tusk. I’d like to say to you, I have had so many letters and emails and texts asking me to come and shake your hand and say thank you for what you’ve done for the UK. You have a cult status now.

Your acceptance of the responsibility of avoiding no deal is in sharp contrast to many politicians in the UK – particularly Conservatives, who have lied, cheated and prevaricated. Indeed, this seems to be an essential element of their CV for party leadership and to be the next Prime Minister. But the work of Mr Barnier, Mr Tusk, Mr Juncker – senior EPP politicians – has given us the chance to vote on 23 May, and we are grateful. We’ll use this opportunity to make the case for EU membership. I’ll be working with Change UK – brave Westminster colleagues who put country before party – and we will make sure that we deliver a result which will make sure that we indicate it’s time for that second referendum and that referendum can take place in September, and by 31 October we will remain.

 
  
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  Seb Dance (S&D). – Madame la Présidente, au nom du peuple de Londres, je souhaiterais exprimer notre profond amour pour la ville de Paris, ainsi que notre admiration pour le courage de ses pompiers. Nous reconstruirons Notre-Dame ensemble.

Brexit is a process and the people over there are denying that process. They deny the fact that when you look at all of the Brexit options available, there are negatives, and no one wants to own those negatives. So it is far easier for them to stand aloof and cry betrayal. But the truth is that Brexit is undeliverable, the one that they promised is undeliverable.

I hope that we have EU elections in the UK so that there is a clear choice between those on that side of the Chamber that cry betrayal at every opportunity and those of us on this side of the Chamber that stand ready to work with our colleagues to build a better Europe, because that’s what this place is for – working together for a common future – and we are ready to play our part in that.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Hans-Olaf Henkel (ECR). – Madam President, I travelled with my bicycle via Luxembourg and Belgium for the very first time to Paris, and I went into the church which burned down yesterday, and when I looked at it on the television, I had tears in my eyes. President Tusk, you mentioned that Gdańsk was reconstructed. Let me give you another example of a successful reconstruction: the Church of Our Lady in Dresden. It was reconstructed with the help of the British, of people from Coventry. I would like to support what Mr González Pons said earlier, that it should be a joint project to help to reconstruct that church in Paris. I think this Parliament should declare that this is a priority number one for the next legislature: to reconstruct this church.

Mr Tusk, you also said that it should be done by all 28 nations. Now the answer must come from London – I heard it from you, and from President Tusk and others. But I think there’s something you can do so that you get the right answer from London. You can make sure that Britain remains a participant in the reconstruction of the church in Paris under the auspices of the European Union. Make sure Britain stays a member of the European Union.

 
  
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  Danuta Maria Hübner (PPE). – Madam President, for the European leaders the new Brexit deadline was a difficult choice to make, but openness and constructiveness have won. Now it’s up to the British side to use this additional time in a constructive way, and I would like to assure Mr Farage that we don’t count on him.

Unfortunately – and it has been disappointing for all of us here – over the last week we have heard comments and read tweets from anti-European English politicians about how they are going to sabotage our work in the months to come. Those politicians deserve to be told that we will not allow for that. We will protect the European Union and its citizens. The EU will continue to be the source of stability, also for this absurd and sad process of Brexit.

Unfortunately, on the British side there is no sign that a cross-party breakthrough is near. However, what is absolutely clear now is that the real problem is not the backstop. The real problem is the future. So maybe a solution is around the corner. What is needed, however, from UK politics is to define what it really wants.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). – Madam President, firstly my sympathy as well, on behalf of the Irish Government, on the destruction of the iconic Notre—Dame.

As regards Brexit, it could be summarised as: the plot thickens, the uncertainty remains, and the people suffer. That is definitely the situation in my country in relation to businesses affected by Brexit and, for instance, farmers who are taking EUR 100—200 less per animal now than they were last year directly because of the uncertainty of Brexit. So hopefully, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn can come to an agreement, but that seems to be doubtful. If they don’t, a decisive decision has to be made to postpone Brexit indefinitely. We have to retain certainty.

It is also affecting my constituency. We were to elect five Members of the European Parliament, but it now seems that we are electing four. But we can’t actually blame the British for that. It’s our own fault, because I asked two years ago that we shouldn’t distribute any seats until the British had left, because it was discourteous to them and also there was a possibility – remote, as it seemed – that they might not go on 29 March. My words have come to pass, so now we are in a bit of a mess. But let’s get over it and let’s end Brexit if no decision is taken to agree the Withdrawal Agreement this week.

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE). – Senhora Presidente, eu gostaria de dizer que é com gosto que vejo que o Conselho Europeu e as instituições europeias mostraram flexibilidade com o Reino Unido como eu aqui tinha pedido. É com gosto que vejo também que o Reino Unido está disponível para organizar eleições europeias e, portanto, que existe alguma possibilidade de o povo britânico vir no futuro a decidir pela manutenção na União Europeia.

Em todo o caso, queria deixar claro: esta decisão continua a criar enorme instabilidade nas pessoas, nas empresas, eu diria nos Estados em geral. E, portanto, eu pedia muito à Comissão Europeia e aos governos nacionais para fazerem tudo o que têm ao seu alcance para poderem dar expetativas, certezas, às pessoas que estão a sofrer com esta indecisão provocada pelo Parlamento britânico e pelas suas decisões.

 
  
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  Ana Gomes (S&D). – Madame la Présidente, nous sommes tous très tristes pour la France et pour l’humanité, parce que Notre-Dame, c’est l’humanité qui l’a bâtie et c’est l’humanité qui va la reconstruire.

I would like to say that I regret that the Council has not set in the agenda for Britain the obligation to go for a people’s vote. It’s the way, the democratic way, to sort out the mess. It’s the way to prevent indeed that Britain will get out of the European Union and I trust that that message will now be given to the British people, to the British parties, from all those responsible in EU governments and that we will indeed as well address the causes of the alienation felt by many citizens that is not just behind Brexit, but as well the divorce of many of our citizens from this Union that we need absolutely to reform and rebuild.

 
  
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  Ana Miranda (Verts/ALE). – Senhora Presidente, este domingo fui a Londres. Ali estive com a comunidade galega, que é muito numerosa, que vive no Reino Unido. Têm incertezas, incertezas quanto à livre circulação de pessoas, incertezas quanto aos serviços, incertezas também quanto à questão dos medicamentos. Trabalham, vivem e estudam no Reino Unido. Sentem-se europeus e europeias e não sabem o que vai acontecer.

O que dizer também, Presidente Tusk e Presidente Juncker, da política das pescas e dos serviços? A flexibilidade de que se fala hoje aqui neste derradeiro plenário desta legislatura é a nossa obrigação, como deputados europeus, a flexibilidade para dar também às pessoas que vivem no Reino Unido, e que se sentem europeias, certezas.

 
  
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  Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D). – Señora presidenta, presidente Juncker, Europe has to move on, Europa tiene que seguir adelante y concentrarse por fin, después del hartazgo del Brexit, en lo que nos une, como el sentimiento de devastación ante el fuego de Notre—Dame de París, de Francia y de Europa.

El 26 de mayo vamos a una elección decisiva, existencial para la Unión Europea. Y añade todavía más incertidumbre y dificultad la duda sobre su composición y sobre su funcionamiento, sobre la participación del Reino Unido en las próximas elecciones europeas.

Y no veo la hora de que respondan por ello, no solamente los incompetentes, incapaces de alcanzar un acuerdo en la Cámara de los Comunes, sino los demagogos frívolos, que llevan veinte años en el Parlamento Europeo defendiendo la causa contra la Unión Europea.

Y no veo la hora de que el 26 de mayo los europeístas derroten con contundencia la demagogia de la eurofobia, no solamente en el Reino Unido sino en el conjunto de la Unión Europea.

 
  
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  Paul Brannen (S&D). – Madam President, for the hour is late, and the time is short. The European Union was built out of the nightmare of the Second World War and it was a dream born of that nightmare that created the place in which we are today. So I endorse President Tusk’s comments that we still need dreamers.

In the words of T. E. Lawrence, ‘All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.’ For the hour is late and the time is short.

So dream on, President Tusk, dream on. Dream on, remainers, dream on. Then act on those dreams and make them possible. We can remain. We will remain.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Gunnar Hökmark (PPE). – Madam President, I think this whole debate shows one thing and that is the strength of European unity. The problems in Westminster are caused by the fact that belonging to the European Union means a lot for a society and it is difficult to break up. I must say, and I will give him credit for that, Mr Farage is a funny person, but he is just funny. You have never seriously contributed to European security, to economic growth in Europe, to open markets in Europe. You have been funny all the time, and why should we be afraid of you? You are trying to make us afraid of people like you coming back. Well you’re just a funny clerk at the court. We like to listen to you sometimes, but we really don’t listen to what you say, because what you say has no real meaning for the unity of Europe or for the people of Europe, you are just funny and we are not afraid of you and I hope that the United Kingdom can stay in a United European Union.

(Applause)

 
  
 

(End of catch-the-eye procedure)

 
  
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  Jean-Claude Juncker, Präsident der Kommission. – Frau Präsidentin, meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren! Ich ergreife das Wort, um mich nach jahrelanger gemeinsamer Wanderung hier in Straßburg bei den Mitgliedern dieses Hauses zu bedanken, bei diesem Parlament. Ich werde auch noch am Anfang der Tätigkeit des nächsten Parlaments hier sein, aber ich werde in diesem neuen Parlament meinen guten Freund Elmar Brok sehr vermissen. Ich bin mit ihm 40 Jahre lang durch dick und dünn gegangen, wir haben gestritten, wir haben uns geeinigt, wir haben gelacht, manchmal auch geweint. Es war schön mit Dir, Elmar, vielen Dank!

 
  
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  Donald Tusk, President of the European Council. – Madam President, I have just one remark. For many weeks now, the participation of the UK in the elections to the European Parliament has evoked emotions, especially in this Chamber. I want to remind everybody that the UK has the right and obligation to take part in this election as long as it is a member of the EU. This is not subject to negotiation. I also can’t agree to establishing a second-category membership.

I understand party interests, but they cannot overshadow the legal reality. Mr Verhofstadt was heartily and energetically applauded by Mr Farage. This is a good enough reason for you, Mr Verhofstadt, to deeply re-think and reformulate your argumentation.

(Applause)

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

Written statements (Rule 162)

 
  
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  Carlos Zorrinho (S&D), por escrito. – O debate sobre as conclusões do Conselho Europeu de 10 de abril sobre a saída do Reino Unido da UE foi marcado por um profundo sentido de tristeza decorrente da destruição na véspera, pelo fogo, da Catedral de Notre Dame em Paris. O compromisso assumido pelo Conselho Europeu de que a sua reconstrução será uma tarefa partilhada por todos os Membros da UE mostra a força política, económica, social e cultural da parceria. Uma parceria que o Reino Unido mostrou intenção de deixar, após um referendo.

A UE definiu de forma robusta um quadro de saída com um acordo a que até agora as instituições britânicas não conseguiram aprovar nem propor alternativa. A prorrogação do tempo de saída para 31 de outubro foi mais uma manifestação de boa vontade da UE. Se aceitar o acordo até 22 de maio, o RU deixará a UE. Se o não fizer, então o Reino Unido deverá realizar eleições europeias no calendário e os seus eurodeputados deverão manter a plenitude das suas funções até ao momento da eventual saída. A UE não pode ficar suspensa da indefinição britânica. Definidas as regras, os Britânicos têm que se decidir.

 
  
 

(The session was suspended for a few moments)

 
Последно осъвременяване: 25 юли 2019 г.Правна информация