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 Full text 
Tuesday, 24 October 2017 - Strasbourg Revised edition

2. Conclusions of the European Council meeting of 19 and 20 October 2017 and presentation of the Leaders’ Agenda (Building our future together) (debate)
Video of the speeches

  Syed Kamall, on behalf of the ECR Group . – Mr President, Gianni, I admire your idealism when you speak, and it is important that we all tackle poverty but I prefer community-led solutions rather than top-down. Let me just correct you on one of the myths that you highlighted, which is about Robin Hood’s motivations. Let us remember that Robin Hood stole money from the tax collector to give the money back to taxpayers. Let us remember that when we are looking at the Robin Hood story.

Last week’s Council meeting highlighted one simple fact: that the EU is sometimes in danger of allowing idealism to get the better of pragmatism. This is certainly true when looking at the European Council’s and Parliament’s positions on the migration package and negotiations with the UK.

The European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) welcomes much of the Council’s current strategy in tackling the migration crisis, closing trafficking routes across the Mediterranean, strengthening cooperation with international partners, returning unsuccessful applicants and strengthening the role of Frontex.

Two years ago the ECR published these papers that called for exactly these kinds of sensible measures. Maybe if they had been introduced at the time, then maybe there would be more confidence in our migration and asylum system today.

Instead, this Parliament appears to have a position on adopting a regulation that throws out the rulebook and long-established asylum laws to pursue a relocation system which has not exactly been a success, with proposals which mean that an asylum seeker would no longer have their application processed or even have a first admissibility check in the country that they arrive in and continuing to force quotas on countries which have already said that they do not support relocation.

This approach gives asylum seekers false hope and EU citizens false solutions. These proposals will not increase solidarity but they may increase voters’ frustrations with politicians. Please let us rethink the unintended consequences of Parliament’s proposals in a pragmatic way.

On the Brexit negotiations, let us be more pragmatic. As a British MEP, who leads one of the largest political groups in this House, who enjoys good relations with people on both sides of the negotiating table and who, like Jean-Claude, wants a mutually beneficial deal, I hope that we avoid becoming trapped by the sequencing of negotiations.

For there to be real progress, we must take a step back and look at the process as a whole. Just as there needs to be an understanding from the UK as to where the EU 27 are coming from, there also needs to be an understanding from the EU 27 as to where the British people are coming from.

The UK joined the EEC 40 years ago because more than anything it believed in open trade. That remains the UK’s main motivation for its current relationship with the EU, and it will be a major motivation in creating the UK’s future relationship with the EU and vice versa. So perhaps the more the EU talks about the issues that resonate with the UK, it may find that the UK is more willing to give concessions on the issues that the EU 27 care most about and prioritise.

On both migration and UK negotiations, we may all find that while idealism may be a wonderful way to view the world and sequencing may appear to be perfectly logical, it will be pragmatism that delivers the solutions that we all want to see.

Last updated: 12 January 2018Legal notice