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 Full text 
Tuesday, 16 January 2018 - Strasbourg Revised edition

3. Conclusions of the European Council meeting of 14 and 15 December 2017 (debate)
Video of the speeches

  Syed Kamall, on behalf of the ECR Group . – Mr President, Happy New Year! As we begin 2018, I am sure most of us were pleased to see that we ended 2017 on a positive note by agreeing to move forward with negotiations on the new EU-UK relationship. But as other speakers have said before me, the next stage won’t necessarily be any easier than the first.

These are tough negotiations in tough times, and there will probably be moments when it feels as though the two sides are far apart, incapable of understanding each other. But the reason that these negotiations are tough is because first of all, negotiation by their very nature ought to be tough, and secondly, because both sides care about the outcome, on opposite sides of the table, but united by one simple goal: the desire to get the best possible result for citizens.

The UK and the EU will remain friends and allies, but we believe that the future is best secured through different approaches. The journey we are on is uncharted, but the ECR Group hopes and believes that we can achieve a deal to the benefit of all sides. And while the UK asks for a bespoke deal, EU negotiators ask: which template? But we all know that while one specific trade deal may act as a template for others, no two trade deals are exactly alike. After all, the Canada-EU agreements were bespoke in themselves. So whether you call for proposals for the EU-UK deal to be bespoke, or Canada+++ or some other variation, it is clear that the UK wants to be good neighbours. However, the UK needs to understand that whilst EU leaders on the whole want as beneficial a deal as possible, they do not want to make it so attractive that other countries are tempted to follow the UK out of the door.

But voters, citizens and workers don’t care about legal protocols or legal technicalities, they don’t sit at home hoping that the UK is made an example of. They simply want both sides to sort it out. They don’t want more uncertainty, more grandstanding or more treading over old ground from either side. They want to keep making a living, keep selling their products, keep their jobs, keep travelling and keep safe. So quite simply, the EU needs to decide: is this a deal for the European peoples, or is it a deal for the European project?

The ECR Group believes that this question is not limited to just Brexit, but a very fundamental question about the very future of the EU. Is the EU serving the needs of its peoples? Is the EU offering workable solutions to the core challenges its Member States face, such as migration and others? Could the EU do less, but do it better? And while there will be those who call for evermore European integration and evermore harmonisation once the UK departs, the European Conservative and Reformist Group will continue to be a voice for those who want to see an EU that respects its Member States, an EU that provides value for money, and an EU that is outward looking, signing trade agreements not only with the UK, but with countries across the world.

Last updated: 3 April 2018Legal notice