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A9-0004/2020

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L-Erbgħa, 29 ta' Jannar 2020 - Brussell Edizzjoni riveduta

16. Ftehim dwar il-ħruġ tar-Renju Unit tal-Gran Brittanja u tal-Irlanda ta' Fuq mill-Unjoni Ewropea u mill-Komunità Ewropea tal-Enerġija Atomika (dibattitu)
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  Presidente. – L'ordine del giorno reca la raccomandazione di Guy Verhofstadt, a nome della commissione per gli affari costituzionali, sul progetto di decisione del Consiglio relativa alla conclusione dell'accordo sul recesso del Regno Unito di Gran Bretagna e Irlanda del Nord dall'Unione europea e dalla Comunità europea dell'energia atomica (21105/3/2018 - C9-0148/2019 - 2018/0427(NLE)) (A9-0004/2020).

Do la parola al relatore, on. Verhofstadt, e ringrazio per la loro presenza in Aula la Presidente von der Leyen e Michel Barnier e naturalmente la Presidenza croata.

 
  
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  Guy Verhofstadt, Rapporteur. – Mr President, colleagues, the first thing that I want to do in this debate is to thank one man – a man here in this room – because in this fight he has played a crucial role. He has kept the unity of the 27, he has kept the unity between the three institutions, and everybody who works in Europe knows that this is not a small achievement. And for that reason, I want – especially for his friendship, for his cooperation – to thank Michel Barnier, our chief negotiator.

(Applause)

At the beginning of this debate, Mr President, I want also to pay tribute to our British colleagues – well, at least the overwhelming majority of them. I have to say to them that they have always brought wit, charm, intelligence (some of them). And, let’s recognise, sometimes also stubbornness in this House. I think that I can say, in the name of all of us, from all Groups, I can only say we will miss you in the coming time and in the coming years.

(Applause)

Mr President, let me be clear from the start of this debate. Today’s vote is not a vote in favour of or against Brexit; it’s a vote for an orderly Brexit against a wild, a hard Brexit. I will be very honest with you: if we could stop Brexit by voting ‘no’ today, I would be the first to recommend it. But that’s not on our plate today. That’s not on our table and not the issue today. It is indeed a sad issue: sad to see a nation leaving, a great nation that has given all of us so much. I mean culturally, I mean economically, I mean politically, even its own blood in two world wars. It’s in fact sad to see a country leaving that twice liberated us, has twice given its blood to liberate Europe. And I think, Mr President, in these debates we cannot escape a key question: how could this happen? How is it possible that, more than 40 years after, I think, an enormous overwhelming majority of nearly 70% voted to enter into the European family, how 40 years later they decided, based on their sovereign rights, to leave this European project? I have to tell you that, since the outcome of the referendum (and that is now more than 3 years ago), I have heard many opinions about it. Everybody has an opinion about it. Some people are saying: well look, they are simply afraid, the Brits, of losing their sovereignty. That’s the issue. But colleagues, what does ‘sovereignty’ in fact mean today, in a world that is completely dominated by powerhouses like China, like India, like the US; in a world where we have to challenge transnational problems like climate change and the digital supremacy – tomorrow, of China, today of the US?

Let me say it maybe a little more punchily: what is in fact threatening Britain’s sovereignty most – the rules of our single market or the fact that tomorrow there will be, maybe, the planting of Chinese 5G masts in the British Isles? The cruel reality that we have to consider today in this debate is that European countries lost their sovereignty already a long time ago, and that Europe is just the way to regain that sovereignty in the coming years.

There have been other people who told me and Michel Barnier: look, you don’t understand it. It’s all about migration that Brexit is happening: migrants working in British hospitals, migrants working in British universities, migrants working on construction sites in London. While in fact, dear colleagues, these migrants are European citizens exactly like British citizens are: paying taxes to Britain and, in fact, contributing to the future of British society.

Then, finally, there are other opinions, but I will be short today (for once). There are others who are saying, and pointing the finger at us, and saying: yes, the reason for Brexit is simple. You didn’t give enough to Mr Cameron when he came to Brussels and when he requested new exceptions for Britain: exceptions on free movement, exceptions on the question of the political union. Well I have to tell you, Mr President and colleagues today, that, as rapporteur, it’s my personal opinion and my firm conviction that the opposite is true. Brexit started not three and a half years ago. Brexit started long ago, and I think, personally, that Brexit started exactly the day we started giving exceptions: with opt-ins, with opt-outs, with rebates. That’s, in my opinion, the moment the Union ceased to be in union. And it’s also the moment, colleagues, that the discontent about Europe started. All these exceptions, all these vetoes make a union, in my opinion, not capable to act effectively: always acting too little, too late. And it is, in my opinion, this lack of effectiveness that leads to even more discontent. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy, with members – one leg in the Union and another leg outside the Union – only looking for the advantages, not for the obligations.

So in my opinion: yes, Brexit is also a failure of the Union. It’s also our failure: we have to recognise that in this debate. And yes, there is a lesson to learn from it, and this lesson, dear colleagues, is not to undo the union, as some are arguing here; no, this lesson is – and we have to learn this from Brexit – to deeply reform the union, to make it a real union in the coming years. That means a union without opt-ins, opt-outs, rebates, exceptions and, above all, without unanimity rules and veto rights. Only then can we act, and only then will we defend our interests, and only then will we defend our values. It is this lack of effectiveness that is the problem that we have seen in Brexit.

I have to tell you – and that will be my conclusion, Mr President – in the last couple of days, I received – maybe as you – hundreds of mails from British citizens saying they desperately want either to stay or to return. And I have to tell you, for once – normally it’s easy for me – but this time I don’t know what to respond, because it’s not in our capacity to decide that. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a responsibility to make sure that the Union to which they will return will be another Union, effective and more democratic. So – and that’s my last sentence as rapporteur, Mr President (thank you for the support): this vote is not an adieu; this vote is, in my opinion, only an au revoir.

 
  
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  Nikolina Brnjac, President-in-Office of the Council. – Mr President, when the honourable Members next meet in this Chamber after this weekend, this will be a different plenary. This will be a different union, with one member less. This is not the choice of the Council, nor the Parliament, but we have to respect it.

The withdrawal of the United Kingdom will open a period of transition: a rather short one, if the United Kingdom’s intention remains not to seek its extension before 1 July. Our priority should, therefore, be to rapidly adopt a comprehensive negotiation mandate and start negotiations in order to build a new relationship with the United Kingdom that is as close as possible but balanced in terms of rights and obligations. The short duration of the transition period will, unfortunately, make it more difficult to achieve the widest—ranging outcome by the end of the year. We, therefore, have to remain prepared for all possible scenarios.

It also seems that the current orientations of the United Kingdom Government are adding to this complexity, be it as regards the end of free movement, non—participation in the Single Market or the Customs Union, or the intention to diverge from a regulatory perspective. We have to invest all efforts to avoid the risk of a cliff edge, and to ensure a meaningful outcome of the negotiation this autumn.

Fortunately, and regardless of the outcome, the Withdrawal Agreement will continue to apply, especially its Part 2 on citizens’ rights and the various remedies foreseen should the UK not deliver adequately in implementing these provisions. As we debated two weeks ago, having the Withdrawal Agreement in force does not mean that we should rest on our laurels. As noted in your resolution adopted on the occasion, a number of concerns regarding the preservation of citizens’ rights have to be addressed. This will call for careful monitoring by the UK side as well as by the Commission of the implementing of the relevant provisions.

Today, your vote will hopefully pave the way for the next stage: negotiating the terms of the future relationship with the UK. A relationship for which the European Council called for a comprehensive mandate, covering trade and economic relations, as well as external and internal security. Likewise, this relationship should be underpinned by strong governance and robust level playing field provisions, given the close economic proximity of the United Kingdom.

Even if the core elements of the future relationship – notably the horizontal provisions on governance and the level playing field – can be agreed by the end of the year, the negotiations are expected to take longer: until all the matters covered by the Political Declaration have been addressed. I therefore welcome the step taken by the Parliament to prepare itself within the adaptation of the Brexit Steering Group in a manner that will allow a closer follow—up of the negotiation process. Parliament’s resolution as well as its engagement, notably on citizens’ rights, have proved extremely useful during the negotiation process. We count on this engagement to continue during the transition period and later on – and indeed, a large degree of convergence was revealed during the Brexit process between the position of Parliament as developed in your various resolutions and the priorities of the Council.

Whatever happens, good cooperation between all EU institutions must continue. The European Parliament will remain fully informed and involved in accordance with the EU treaties. I do hope that, during the negotiations to come, our common efforts and commonality of purpose will provide the support required by our negotiator and help to achieve an outcome to the benefit of the Union and its citizens.

To conclude, as I said at the beginning of my intervention, this is a special moment. A number of your colleagues, Members of this House, will be leaving. I know it is an emotional occasion for many of you and I would like to associate myself by addressing my gratitude to the UK Members of the European Parliament for their significant contribution to the work of your institution and of the European Union over the years and wish them well for the future. Thank you for your attention.

 
  
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  Ursula von der Leyen, President of the Commission. – Mr President, honourable Members, as President of the European Commission, first of all I want to pay tribute to all those British people who contributed so much to almost half a century of British EU membership. I think of all those who helped to build our institutions: people like Commissioner Arthur Cockfield, who was known as the father of our single market, or Roy Jenkins, President of the European Commission, who did so much to pave the way for our single currency. I think of these thousands of European civil servants of British nationality who devoted their lives and their careers to Europe and have done so much to build our Union. They will always stay part of our family. And I think of all those years so many British MEPs have contributed to making this Parliament and the Union strong. You have our gratitude and our respect, even more so for your resilience in the last 3.5 years. We will miss you, but we will always keep up our friendship with you, and you can count on us, as we know that we can count on you.

Honourable Members, in the last plenary session we discussed the issues of citizens’ rights. We will also be vigilant on the implementation of the agreement in Northern Ireland. The power-sharing agreement in Northern Ireland gives us hope that the spirit of cooperation will continue to mark relations across the border. Yet the Withdrawal Agreement is only a first step. From now on it’s about our new partnership with the United Kingdom. The negotiations are about to start. And just to be very clear: I want the European Union and the United Kingdom to stay good friends and good partners. The story is about old friends and new beginnings, and we have a lot in common. We both believe that climate change needs to be fought as a matter of urgency. There’s still scope to address these risks, but the window of opportunity is closing. So let’s join forces in protecting our planet.

We both understand that it takes very little power to break a fragile balance and turn it into a full-blown conflict but that the true power lies in putting the pieces back together. And therefore we both believe in the power of development cooperation, and we know that our security is interlinked. And here too we should join forces. For all these and many other reasons, we want to forge a close partnership, but we also know that we have to sort out how to deal with the United Kingdom as a third country. When it comes to trade, we are considering a free trade agreement with zero tariffs and zero quotas. This would be unique; no other free trade agreement offers such an access to our single market. But the precondition is that European and British businesses continue to compete on a level playing field. We will certainly not expose our companies to unfair competition. And it’s very clear: the trade-off is simple. The more united the United Kingdom does commit to uphold our standards for social protection and workers’ rights, our guarantees for the environment and other standards and rules ensuring fair competition, the closer and better the access to the single market. And let me say that, just days ago, some of the largest business associations in Britain – particularly in the car and aerospace industry – asked their government to retain EU standards and rules. And I think this is in our mutual interest. This is about jobs, it’s about common solutions for the world market. And I believe that the United Kingdom and the European Union have a mutual interest in the closest possible partnership.

Honourable Members, no new partnership will bring back the benefits of being part of the same Union, but we have a duty to seek the best for the British and for the European people in a post-Brexit world. On our side, we’ll seek the best for industries and farmers across our continent who ask for predictability. We will seek our best for young British and young European students who want to study and who want to live across the Channel. And we’ll seek the best for all the researchers and scientists who want to explore the unknown and work for common solutions together in the European Union as well as in the United Kingdom. We will devote all our energy, 24/7, to come to results. And to our British friends, and many – perhaps not all, but many – of our British MEPs here in the room, I want to use the words of the famous British poet George Eliot. She said: only in the agony of parting do we look into the depth of love. We will always love you, and we will never be far. Long live Europe.

 
  
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  Manfred Weber, on behalf of the PPE Group. – Mr President, dear colleagues, everybody in this room who feels to be a European knows the story how to achieve this feeling, how to get this feeling: which event, which book, which talk, which person gave us this idea of being a European.

For me it was a trip to Great Britain. I was in England as an 18-year-old boy with Interrail. I stood in a bar. I spoke with an old man, a Guinness in my hand, and we talked about history. He spoke about our fears towards the future, our values. And I understood that we as Europeans have similar fears, hopes; face the same global challenges and stand on the same ground: our European way of life.

Great Britain is now leaving. This week is a sad day for the European Union. Great Britain did so much for prosperity, for peace and democracy in Europe. They will leave us. We cannot change it, but – I have to be clear again – it is a huge mistake. I want to thank also, like my previous speakers, our British colleagues and all the staff members who served in this European Parliament. On Friday you will leave a unique institution and one of the greatest projects in European history: the place of European democracy. And I’ll tell you again: we will miss you. Now we have the Leave Treaty on the table: a good agreement which creates certainty. I also want to thank Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk, Guy Verhofstadt and especially Michel Barnier for their work. Especially our Irish friends got a good understanding of what it means to be part of a big family. The British-Irish history is not an easy one, but it was clear during the last three years: Dublin and Leo Varadkar were strong due to the membership in the European Union. Togetherness makes you stronger: that is the lesson which our Irish friends learned.

And we must keep known the unity. We will focus now on the partnership and friendship with the UK. But one thing is clear: the UK will be a third country. And that means the rules will change. I want to identify two main points on behalf of the EPP. It was the decision of the UK to limit the transition period. We have always shown understanding and flexibility, but we will not allow the EU to be put under pressure and reach a rushed final agreement. We are ready for intensive talks, but in the end, we want to have the best agreement, not the quickest one. And the second thing I want to remind us is: once you’re part of a union, you can enjoy the advantages; once you’re not part of a union, you’re losing the advantages. That has nothing to do with punishment; that is simply the outcome of the decision of the British voters. And let me say it in other words: there will be no cherry picking, no European Singapore next to our markets. We only will grant them access to our market if they respect the European rules. And I also want to add: we defend not only the rules on market base. We tell, for example, Norway and Switzerland that they can only have access to the single market if they respect also the freedom of movement. That’s the same for great Britain: we do not allow trucks to cross our borders without control and people to be stopped. That is not the idea of our European Union; there is not a dream you’re dreaming.

And dear colleagues, a final word on what also Guy Verhofstadt underlined about the lesson we have to learn out of the Brexit developments. To avoid another Brexit debate in one of our Member States, we need a European Union that is ready to act: results, outcomes, positive contributions to the daily life of our citizens is in the centre of our work, and that’s why, again, to the colleagues who will leave us – in my Group it was Julie Girling, it was Richard Ashworth, Richard Corbett, other friends here in the plenary – I tell you, I hope our work in the next years will make Europe so strong, so attractive, that your children and grandchildren will want to be part of the European Union once again. I hope one day they will vote again for this unique institution and will send European members from Britain to the European Parliament. Thank you so much. We will work hard on this.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MAIREAD McGUINNESS
Vice-President

 
  
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  Philippe Lamberts (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, I know that you manage the time in order to serve us all. I recognise that and you do it very well. It is not every day that a Member State is leaving the European Union; do not tell me that we have to vote at 6.00 p.m. sharp because TVs are waiting for us. This is a historic day, please.

 
  
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  President. – Indeed, I agree absolutely with you. This is an historic day. I am not free here, I am under some direction. I agree with you that we should speak all night if possible, but I will try and manage the debate within our time and I would ask you to respect it.

 
  
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  Iratxe García Pérez, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Madam President, today is a very sad day for Europe. At the end of this week, after 47 years, the United Kingdom will end its historic relationship with the European Union. We are devastated to see the UK go.

Respetamos la decisión del pueblo británico, pero su soberana decisión no es óbice para que denunciemos a los responsables políticos que influyeron en la opinión pública británica a través de una campaña populista y desinformada; la derecha británica acabó devorada en su particular guerra civil por la extrema derecha inglesa y el referéndum del Brexit inauguró la era de las noticias falsas en un contexto de desencanto general de la población después de años de austeridad.

La Unión Europea es mucho más que un mercado y necesitamos seguir adelante. Estamos construyendo un espacio de derechos, de seguridad y de progreso social por el que muchos británicos y británicas —sobre todo los laboristas— se han batido durante décadas, incluso sacrificando su vida, tal y como ocurrió con la diputada laborista asesinada Jo Cox. Por ello, no hay mejor manera de honrar su memoria que trabajar día a día por una Europa que murió defendiendo.

El populismo ha obtenido una victoria con su mejor arma: la mentira. Pero que nadie dude de que se trata de una victoria pírrica y la mejor prueba de ello es el Acuerdo de retirada entre el Reino Unido y la Unión Europea que esta Cámara se dispone a adoptar. Este Acuerdo demuestra que nuestros lazos históricos prevalecerán sobre quienes aspiran a destruirlos.

Por un lado, el Acuerdo de retirada garantiza los derechos de los ciudadanos europeos en el Reino Unido y los derechos de los ciudadanos británicos en la Unión Europea, y por otro, evita el levantamiento de la frontera entre la República de Irlanda e Irlanda del Norte, porque la pertenencia de los dos países a la Unión Europea ha tenido un efecto crucial: convertir la frontera que separa Irlanda del Norte de Irlanda en irrelevante y rebajar la tensión del conflicto.

Otro ejemplo que demuestra la victoria desfavorable obtenida por el populismo británico es la negociación sobre nuestra nueva futura relación. El 1 de febrero, el Reino Unido pasará formalmente a ser un país tercero y perderá todos sus derechos políticos. Pero en todo lo demás nada cambiará hasta que termine el periodo transitorio.

The history of the United Kingdom and that of the European Union is one. We also share our laws and values. If the British people ever decide to come back, our arms will be open. You can always count on the support of the Social Democrats because our common values will always remain.

 
  
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  Nathalie Loiseau, on behalf of the Renew Group. – Madam President, for once, I will make an exception. Today is an exceptional moment and I will speak in English because I want to speak to our British friends. To all of you, I will say that we will miss you. The EU will not be the same without you. My deep feeling is that there is no good Brexit. Although I support the Withdrawal Agreement, I’m still convinced that we are better off together than we will be apart from one another.

To all our Lib Dem colleagues, I want to express my deep friendship, emotion and admiration. They fought for Europe against all odds. They were a tremendous added value to the work of this Parliament and they remain part of the Renew Europe family.

To the British citizens living in the EU, to the European citizens living in the UK, I want to assure you: we won’t let you down. This Parliament is the voice of the citizens, and we will make sure that citizens’ rights are fully respected.

To the Brexiteers, I could say ‘no hard feelings’. You have achieved your objective. You enter a new phase – the most difficult one – and you will have no one to blame for the future of your country, especially not Brussels. You are in charge. But trust me, if some of you think that the next phase is the weakening of the EU, we will prove you dead wrong. We will renew Europe, make it better, make it stronger, learn the lessons from Brexit. Brexit is a sad and exceptional moment and will remain both.

 
  
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  Philippe Lamberts, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Madam President, for some, 31 January will be a happy day. For us Greens and European Free Alliance members, it will be a sad day. It’s no secret that each and every one of us fought relentlessly to keep the United Kingdom as part of the European Union: not because we think that whatever the European Union does is the right thing, but because we firmly believe that the only way for Europeans to regain sovereignty – that is, the ability to shape our future – is by sharing it.

As Jean-Claude Juncker once said, there are two sorts of European States: the small ones and those who don’t yet realise they are small. But more importantly, we see the European Union as an unprecedented, if fragile, attempt at building a transnational democracy. Such an experiment may come in handy at a time when not just Europe but the entire world is facing challenges beyond the might of any single nation.

Citizens, we fought the battle and we lost. Last December’s election provided a result, but not the one we wished. In two days from now, Brexit will happen and, in order for it to be orderly, we will vote for the Withdrawal Agreement. The United Kingdom and the EU remain bound by geography. It is in no-one’s interest to have bad relations as neighbours. But more fundamentally, we European decision-makers must realise that, if an increasing number of our fellow citizens have turned their backs against the European project, it’s for a reason. It’s because many believe that too often, policies adopted at European level have served the interests of the few rather than of the many. And we need to fix this. We need to fix this if we really want to avoid the repetition of Brexit happening. Let us make it our utmost priority that, from now on, our aim will be that all our policies will strive to serve the interests of everyone, starting with the most vulnerable, and do this while respecting the limits that nature imposes on us. The European Green Deal announced by the European Commission is an opportunity to take the right course. Let us seize it. This is the best – and the only – way to win or regain the hearts and minds of the European citizens. Long live the European Union.

 
  
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  Gerolf Annemans, namens de ID-Fractie. – Collega’s, vandaag nemen wij afscheid van onze vrienden uit het Verenigd Koninkrijk en ik zou erop aan willen dringen om dat afscheid waardig te laten verlopen en vriendschappelijk. Hou dus op, goede collega’s, deze dag te betreuren of, zoals sommigen deden, te spreken over een donkere dag in de geschiedenis van Europa. Dat is deze dag dus niet. Het Verenigd Koninkrijk heeft na een grondig en zelfs jarenlang debat over de Europese Unie besloten om gebruik te maken van de Verdragsbepalingen die voorzien dat een lidstaat deze “much too close Union” mag verlaten.

Als hier dan toch iets zou moeten worden betreurd, dan is het enkel het feit dat mensen als ik, critici van de steeds hechtere Unie, die steeds meer federaal gecentraliseerd is, nu zonder de Britse steun achterblijven en dat de EU-fanaten nu ongehinderd tegen de tijdsgeest in, vol gas naar een versnelde integratie kunnen doorstomen. Het is in dat verband dat ik zou willen aanbevelen om het politieke getouwtrek te stoppen en op het niveau van de Commissie en de Britse regering snel en flexibel tot een relatie te komen, niet naar het model van een associatieverdrag, het gaat tenslotte niet om Turkije of Moldavië, maar op basis van een sui-generismodel van bevoorrechte vriendschap en volledige vrijheid.

Dat een volk opnieuw terugkeert naar zijn volle autonomie, soevereiniteit, onafhankelijkheid en vrijheid, inspireert mij hier vandaag te zeggen: “Oh what a wonderful afternoon, what a happy day.”

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Madam President, ‘how did we get here?’ asked Mr Verhofstadt, opening the debate. There was a referendum in 1975, which went in favour of continued membership. There was no continuity leave campaign after that; people accepted the result with good grace. They did not seek to overturn it. Indeed, Euroscepticism was confined to the fringes of the Bennite left.

What changed, frankly, was the Maastricht Treaty. Up until that moment, it was still possible to see the EU as a club of nations, as an association of states primarily concerned with trade and economics. But after Maastricht it became clear that EU jurisdiction was being extended into a whole series of completely uneconomic fields: foreign policy, culture, migration, citizens’ rights etc., etc., and that the aspiration was to have the EU as a quasi—state with a flag and a parliament and a currency and a president and external embassies and all the other accoutrements.

If, at any stage, Britain had been able to have a trade—only association, of course that would have been enough. In fact, even as recently as February 2016, if David Cameron had come back with any repatriation of power, can we doubt that he would have won the ensuing referendum? But, faced with the departure of its second financial contributor, the EU was still not prepared to allow any devolution of power and that, ultimately, is what made a parting of ways inevitable.

So I wish you all the best. I want to return to the kind of vision that Churchill set out when he said, let’s have a united Europe with Britain looking on as a friend and sponsor. You are losing a bad tenant but gaining a good neighbour.

Vous allez perdre un mauvais locataire, mais vous allez gagner un bon voisin.

 
  
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  Martin Schirdewan, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. – Madam President, first of all, I would like to thank the British for their contribution to the European Union over forty years, for good and for ill. But in particular, I want to thank our Irish friend, Martina Anderson, who has fought so hard for the people of the North of Ireland. She has made a lasting difference to this Parliament, to the Brexit agreement. GUE/NGL will miss her voice.

Although Brexit is partly the result of a huge disinformation campaign, I somehow feel that Britain might not be the last Member State to leave the European Union, but the first. If the EU doesn’t change its political course, more Member States might follow. By persisting with austerity and by putting corporate interests ahead of our citizens, governments allow big companies to dominate our lives and our politics. That dominance destroys not only our environment but our economy, our jobs, our public services, our streets, our local libraries, our railways, our post offices, our schools, our entire social fabric. So don’t be surprised the next time we sit here to lament the departure of another Member State. Britain may be the first, but it may not be the last. Brexit should be the wake-up call that we must finally put people and planet before profit in Europe.

 
  
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  Nigel Farage (NI). – Madam President, so this is it, the final chapter, the end of the road: a 47—year political experiment that the British, frankly, have never been very happy with. My mother and father signed up to a common market, not to a political union, not to flags, anthems, presidents – and now you even want your own army.

For me, it’s been 27 years of campaigning and over 20 years here in this Parliament. I’m not particularly happy with the agreement we’re being asked to vote on tonight, but Boris has been remarkably bold in the last few months and, Ms von der Leyen, he’s made it clear: he’s promised us there’ll be no level playing field. And, on that basis, I wish him every success in the next round of negotiations, I really do.

But the most significant point is this: what happens at 11p.m. this Friday, 31 January 2020 marks the point of no return. Once we’ve left we are never coming back, and the rest, frankly, is detail. We’re going, we will be gone – and that should be the summit of my own political ambitions. I walked in here – as I’ve said before, you all thought it was terribly funny, you stopped laughing in 2016 – but my view has changed of Europe since I joined.

In 2005, I saw the Constitution that had been drafted by Giscard and others. I saw it rejected by the French in a referendum. I saw it rejected by the Dutch in a referendum. And I saw you, in these institutions, ignore them, bring it back as the Lisbon Treaty and boast you could ram it through without there being referendums. Well, the Irish did have a vote and did say no and were forced to vote again. You’re very good at making people vote again. But what we proved is, the British are too big to bully, thank goodness.

So I became an outright opponent of the entire European project. I want Brexit to start a debate across the rest of Europe. What do we want from Europe? If we want trade, friendship, cooperation, reciprocity, we don’t need a European Commission. We don’t need a European Court. We don’t need these institutions and all of this power. And I can promise you, both in UKIP and indeed in the Brexit party, we love Europe; we just hate the European Union. It’s a simple as that.

So I’m hoping this begins the end of this project. It’s a bad project. It isn’t just undemocratic, it’s anti—democratic, and it puts in that front row, it gives people power without accountability – people who cannot be held to account by the electorate. And that is an unacceptable structure.

Indeed, there’s an historic battle going on now across the West: in Europe, America and elsewhere. It is globalism against populism. And you may loathe populism, but I’ll tell you a funny thing, it’s becoming very popular, and it has great benefits: no more financial contributions, no more European Court of Justice, no more common fisheries policy, no more being talked down to, no more being bullied, no more Guy Verhofstadt. I mean, what’s not to like?

I know you’re going to miss us, I know you want to ban our national flags, but we’re going to wave you goodbye and we’ll look forward, in the future, to working with you as sovereign...

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  President. – If you disobey the rules, you get cut off. Could we please remove the flags. Mr Farage, could you remove the flags, please. Could I please ask for quiet. Please sit down. Resume your seats. Put your flags away and take them with you, if you are leaving now. Goodbye.

Can I just say that the word ‘hate’ was used in the last contribution. I really think, given what we heard before this, that we should not ‘hate’ anyone, or any people or any nation.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Danuta Maria Hübner (PPE). – Madam President, I must say that the only thing I am absolutely sure I will not miss is listening to Mr Farage. I speak here as EPP representative in the Brexit steering group but also as the former Chair of the Constitutional Affairs Committee who had all those Brexiteers and nearly 500 meetings with all those potentially affected by Brexit.

From the very beginning of the negotiations, the EU side has aimed for an orderly withdrawal based on an agreement. This is the only thing we could do to give legal certainty to the process, and we have achieved this goal. I hope most of us will endorse the consent to the Council Decision on the conclusion of this agreement to avoid a hard Brexit. From the very beginning of this process, we have been also clear that UK withdrawal is not a final destination. Now we should aim at a close comprehensive agreement on the future relationship, preferably in the form of an association agreement embracing both close economic partnership and security cooperation. We know that the UK political choice has been taking back control. So yes, we are aware that, if the UK aims at divergence from European norms and standards, it can put at risk even a bare-bone FTA. That is why a well-tailored agreement on a level playing field will be crucial, Mr Farage. But there is ahead of us, as the European Parliament, also the task to have a watchful eye on the implementation and enforcement of the withdrawal agreement. Of particular importance for us will be the oversight of the implementation of citizens’ rights and of the Irish protocol.

To conclude, let me call on the Commission to respect the commitment of its former President to involve the European Parliament in the work of the Joint Committee, and let me reach out to Robert Burns and say: For auld lang syne.

 
  
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  Richard Corbett (S&D).(inaudible) ... against this Withdrawal Agreement because it’s bad for Britain, it’s bad for Europe, and we think it was wrong for Boris Johnson to proceed without putting it back to the British people to a confirmatory referendum. That was like saying to the British public: you had your say three years ago (four years ago now); now you have to shut up and accept whatever I come up with, no matter how bad it is and no matter how different it is from what he promised.

Four years ago, Johnson and his Leave campaign said this would all be easy; it’s turned out to be rather difficult. They said it would save lots of money that would all go to the NHS; it’s turning out to cost a fortune. They said it would be good for Britain and the economy; the opposite is true. That’s why the British public voted 53% in our elections for parties demanding another referendum. Brexit does not have the wholehearted consent of the British people, and that’s for very good reasons: it bears no resemblance to what they were promised.

Nor will his promise to ‘get Brexit done’ on 31 January turn out to be anything like true. That’s the beginning of the next phase: negotiations to settle issues which will prove very difficult. Britain has to make difficult choices. Will it want to stay close to the European Union, aligned with the rules, or distance itself? If it distances itself, it has huge economic costs. If it aligns itself, it has to follow the rules without having a say on them anymore. Neither is actually good for Britain.

And that’s why public opinion will continue to move against Brexit. That’s why I predict that the catchphrase next year in our media and social media will be ‘Brexit isn’t working’. That’s what people will say, and that’s why – that, and the fact that it is especially our young people who are strongly against Brexit – this may indeed not be an adieu, it may just be an au revoir.

 
  
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  President. – Just to say that I did ask colleagues to remove the flags from their desks. Our British colleagues have obliged; they’ve left the Chamber with their flags. I would ask that other colleagues please do the same. I am bound to apply the rules that the President has set.

(Interruption from the floor)

With due respect, Mr Annemans, it is not an abuse. Could I just say that this is an emotional debate. I’m trying to keep the House in order.

(Further interruption from the floor)

Please don’t shout back. You don’t have the microphone. I’m not going to give points of order. I am going to say that this is the rule; I’ve done my best to try and apply it. I am not going to physically remove the flags myself, but I would ask you to respect the speaker. I am doing my job on behalf of this House.

(Applause)

Thank you for your support.

 
  
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  Caroline Voaden (Renew). – Madam President, last July when I came to this Parliament with 15 colleagues we were full of optimism and hope; today our mood is very sombre. In a world that is ever more interconnected, with problems that don’t respect national borders, Brexit is a backward step.

Here we have seen democratically elected politicians work together with each other, across party, across groups, across national divides. It is truly inspirational.

Brexit is the result of an ideological divide in an old political party that should have split decades ago, but it won’t because of a voting system that is not fit for purpose. The only silver lining in this very dark cloud is that the division caused by Brexit could now be the catalyst for something even bigger: a wholesale reform of our democracy in the UK which will mean that our country can never again be hijacked by a vanity project that has no basis in reality.

We will hold our government to account every step of the way. They have promised us the earth; let’s see if they can deliver. We are still Europeans. For now we say, merci, au revoir. This is not goodbye.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Jill Evans (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, I took my seat in this House, representing Wales, over twenty years ago. Wales has benefited hugely from EU membership. We also had a lot to contribute. Now, despite my best efforts, Welsh is still not a fully official language. But I will use it now in my final speech in this Parliament.

(A few words in Welsh)

Wales is a European nation. I believe our future is within the EU. We are leaving now, but know this: in our hearts we are still here: (a few words in Welsh). And we will be back (a few words in Welsh).

(Applause)

 
  
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  Jörg Meuthen (ID). – Frau Präsidentin, meine Damen und Herren! Mit dem Vereinigten Königreich verlässt nun eine der wichtigsten Nationen die EU. Endlich haben diese unwürdigen Austrittsverhandlungen ein Ende. Sie, die Repräsentanten dieser nun deutlich verkleinerten EU, haben sich damit selbst ein Armutszeugnis ausgestellt. Es wird sich nun bald zeigen, wie Sie sich mit Ihren düster drohenden Prophezeiungen einer tiefschwarzen Zukunft Großbritanniens geirrt haben. Während Großbritannien jetzt auch wirtschaftlich im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes zu neuen Ufern aufbrechen wird, bedeutet der Brexit für die verbleibenden EU-Staaten tatsächlich sowohl eine ökonomische wie eine politische Verzwergung. Die Briten haben sich demokratisch gegen den EU-Zentralismus entschieden. Verstehen Sie doch endlich: Das ist ein Weckruf, eine Warnung an alle! Will diese EU eine Zukunft haben, muss sie sich dringend grundlegend reformieren. Hören Sie auf, die Freiheit der Bürger und die Souveränität der Nationen weiter mit Füßen zu treten! Schluss mit immer mehr Machtakkumulation hier in Brüssel! An unsere britischen Freunde gerichtet:

We stay friends in freedom, and from now on you will have more freedom than we Remainers have. Brexit will make Britain great again. Good luck, guys.

 
  
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  Geoffrey Van Orden (ECR). – Madam President, may I first of all say a big thank you to colleagues from other nations who’ve made such generous remarks this afternoon. But I have to say, Britain always sat somewhat uneasily in the European Union. A common market is indeed what many thought they’d joined, rather than a project for political integration.

The advance of the EU juggernaut through Monnet’s small steps was sometimes hardly noticed. As national borders were eroded and more policy areas became EU competences, so British disenchantment intensified: not surprisingly, as we hear the answer to every problem is more Europe – and we even hear this from colleagues from the left in the British political setup.

Friday will mark the beginning of a new relationship between Britain and the European Union. The negotiation this year of a free trade agreement and other arrangements should be seen as an opportunity, not a confrontation. It’s in the interests of both the EU and the UK for a good agreement, negotiated with goodwill and flexibility, based on precedent, to be concluded in friendship and before the end of the year.

Britain will still be a European power – the leading European power in NATO, committed to the security of the democracies of the European continent, sharing many of the standpoints and aspirations of the nations of Europe, an independent sovereign country with friendly relations with the EU: that’s our aim.

Madam President, may I just say, on a personal note: I spent 30 years as a British Army officer and now 20 years representing Britain in this European Parliament. I’ve enjoyed my work, and I want to say a big thank you to all colleagues here and to the officials and personal staff that I’ve worked with over the years. Thank you and farewell.

 
  
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  Martina Anderson (GUE/NGL).A chairde, on Friday at 11.00 p.m. this Irish MEP will be kicked out of this Parliament against the democratic wishes of the people of Ireland who voted to remain, and who want to stay in the EU.

After forty-seven years of membership, and after fifty years of fighting against gerrymandering in places like Derry, the British Government is once again kicking our voting rights away – taking them away from us and, once again, is changing the constitutional position of the people of Ireland without our consent. Today I am voting in favour of this Irish protocol because Sinn Féin will not consent to the hardening of the British border partition in Ireland. We will not consent to custom posts. We will not consent to barbed wire. There is no doubt that the Irish protocol in the withdrawal agreement is an ugly compromise, but it’s better than a crash—out Brexit.

However, partition and Brexit are ugly impositions that have burdened Ireland for years. Because of partition, Brexit is stripping away our democratic and social rights. But because of Brexit, a dynamic conversation about Irish unity has been invigorated. The EU Council made its contribution to Irish unity when, on the 29th of April 2017, 27 Member States agreed that, if Ireland is reunified, the whole of Ireland is in the EU.

The partition of Ireland is not only a problem for us in Ireland. The 300 mile border, with 320 border crossings, is now your problem too. When Britain gets its empire back, showing it cares nothing about your level playing field, and when shady low-standard products with minimum protection make their way into your market, you will not be long in joining the sensible people in supporting Irish unity. There is no doubt that the day will come when Irish MEPs from the north will be back in the European Parliament. Mark my words: tiocfaidh an lá sin.

 
  
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  Mislav Kolakušić (NI). – Poštovana predsjednice, Europska unija je prvenstveno zajednica građana Europske unije. Većina država je ušla u Europsku uniju putem direktnog odlučivanja na referendumima. Građani su se direktno izjašnjavali da žele biti članovi Europske unije. Odgovarali su na vrlo jednostavno pitanje „da” ili „ne”. Sada su građani Ujedinjenog Kraljevstva ponovno odgovorili na vrlo jednostavno pitanje „da” ili „ne”. Kako građani odlučuju? Prvenstveno žele da bi bili članovi neke zajednice da imaju više koristi nego štete, žele da imaju jednakost i poštovanje, žele da imaju ekonomsku korist. Ukoliko građani određenih država vide da drugi građani drugih država imaju veću ekonomsku korist, doći će do ponovnog udaljenja iz Europske unije i mislim da ovo nije posljednje.

 
  
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  Esteban González Pons (PPE). – Madam President, I would like to say to our British colleagues: we have had disagreements, but you have been loyal in the debates. Europe is today a better place because of you. We will never forget that your parents fought on oceans and seas, on the beach and landing grounds, in the fields, in the streets, in the hills, and that they did never surrender. Our freedom lies in their generosity. Our peace lies in their sacrifice. We are blood brothers and sisters, a community of hope. We shall never forget it; you should never forget it. So in this crucial moment of history, let me tell you that it’s been the greatest honour to share the last 46 years with you, and that the day will come that we will be reunited again. I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but, as we learned from your parents, surrender is never an option. Dear colleagues, God bless the United Kingdom. God bless all of us.

 
  
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  Pedro Silva Pereira (S&D). – Madam President, sadly we will have to vote today on the agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, and we will do it for one reason and one reason only: this agreement is needed for damage control. Brexit, even many of those who voted to leave know it by now, will always be damaging: damaging for the European Union, even more damaging for the UK, and most of all, damaging for our capacity to tackle together the common challenges we face. But if Brexit is to happen, it is better to have it in an orderly way, providing for a transition period, avoiding by now a catastrophic no-deal scenario, safeguarding citizens’ rights and ensuring an open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

But we are not here today only to vote on an agreement; we are here to write history. Unfortunately, the page that is going to be written today is regrettable. I wish to thank our British colleagues with great emotion for their valuable contribution to the European project. Looking ahead, I want to assure them that we will do our best to negotiate a fruitful future relationship with the UK for the benefit of both parties while safeguarding the integrity of the single market, our high environmental and social standards, and citizens’ rights.

Finally, let me say that, despite Brexit and this rising movement of nationalism and populism, the European project will prevail, will prevail ensuring peace, will prevail delivering prosperity and defending our common values.

 
  
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  Bill Newton Dunn (Renew). – Madam President, I want to make two points. First of all, the root cause why the UK is leaving is because the leaders of the parties at Westminster, the two big parties, live in a fantasy world. They work in ancient buildings. The buildings were built for an empire, and they still think they’re running an empire and are a superpower. Consequently, they have never told the British people the reality that we are a European country and not a superpower, and even our children in the schools are not taught in the curriculum about Europe. So there has been an abject failure by Westminster.

Sadly, in this debate, Farage, who’s gone, and Hannan, who I think is still in there, told a complete untruth. This project was never about free trade. It was always about more than free trade and ever-closer Union. Even Mrs Thatcher, in the referendum campaign in 1975, said this is about more than just free trade. So when they talk about free trade only, it’s been misleading the British people all the way along. And that’s a disgrace.

The last thing I want to say is, I’ve been privileged enough to have been elected here for the first time in 1979 – a very long time ago – and I still want to see next (it isn’t finished) the construction of a European FBI to fight cross-border crime, because our police forces – we have 500 in Europe – none of them can cross borders and pursue the criminals. So colleagues, keep building, keep going on, as Liliana Segre said to us, one foot in front of another.

 
  
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  Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, it is important to remember that the majority of women and young people of the UK voted to stay in the European Union. 75% of 18-24-year-olds voted to keep the United Kingdom in the European Union. More specifically, 80% of women between the ages of 18 and 24 were against Brexit, and there is a reason for that.

The European Union protects women’s rights to a great extent. Will the UK, out of Europe, give the same guarantees? The Scots, the northern Irish, the Welsh, by their citizens’ votes and also, these last two years, by their national parliaments have continued to express their attachment to the European Union. They now find themselves on the sidelines. The choices of these regional assemblies are not heard, and this is one of the major problems of Brexit. But there is another concern, a very strong one. Great Britain today is a country with a very deregulated economy and a very unequal society. European directives on workers’ rights were the last bulwark for the most vulnerable part: women, minorities and young people.

We Greens, regionalists and pirates will pay close attention to the situation of citizens’ rights in the aftermath. We are committed to protecting the rights of all Europeans living in Britain and British people living in the rest of Europe.

 
  
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  Antonio Maria Rinaldi (ID). – Signora Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, oggi siamo chiamati a votare non per l'uscita del Regno Unito dall'Europa ma dall'Unione europea e per quel che mi riguarda il Regno Unito fa parte dell'Europa dalla notte dei tempi e ci rimarrà finché la terra girerà intorno al sole.

Il problema è che hanno esercitato un sacrosanto diritto, perché la più grande conquista del genere umano è aver attribuito la sovranità al popolo e il popolo del Regno Unito lo ha perfettamente incarnato questo principio.

Piuttosto, credo che la storia sarà estremamente severa nei confronti di Barnier, che è stato il peggiore, il peggiore, dei negoziatori possibili. Nel 2016 disse: "sarei riuscito nel mio compito se alla fine l'accordo fosse così duro con gli inglesi che preferiranno rimanere nella Unione europea". Spero che un giorno si vergogni e chieda scusa per queste affermazioni. God save the Queen!

 
  
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  Geert Bourgeois (ECR). – Voorzitter, mijn gevoelens vandaag zijn gevoelens van tevredenheid dat wij een ordelijke brexit hebben dankzij Michel Barnier. Ten tweede, droefheid omdat onze Britse partners, onze Britse geallieerden, onze Britse vrienden ons verlaten. Ten derde, respect voor de beslissing van het Britse volk.

Maar wie brexit zegt, zegt nadenken over de toekomst van de Europese Unie. In de eerste plaats een goed, diepgaand partnerschap met onze Britse vrienden. We hebben in feite maar acht maanden de tijd en we moeten een andere beweging maken dan bij vorige onderhandelingen. Toen ging het over meer liberalisering. Nu moeten we een vrije markt behouden, moeten we zien dat we zoveel mogelijk interne markt en vrijhandel behouden. Ten tweede moeten we nadenken over de toekomst van de Europese Unie en daar wil ik veel over zeggen, maar wat voor mij voorop staat: na de brexit moet de Europese Unie meer dan ooit een geopolitieke rol op zich nemen.

 
  
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  Matt Carthy (GUE/NGL).A Uachtarán, this Friday, part of our country will be taken out of the European Union against the wishes of the vast majority of people who live there. I’m proud of Sinn Féin’s record in this Parliament and elsewhere in working to ensure that the repercussions of Brexit for the north of Ireland, for the border regions and for our entire island have been minimised in this Withdrawal Agreement, but the fact remains that, from this weekend, one part of Ireland will be in the EU while the other part will operate outside. The complications that come with that are yet to be told.

The future trade relationship between Britain and the EU could yet create unprecedented difficulties for the Irish economy and vulnerable sectors, particularly agriculture. So, much work remains to be done and Sinn Féin will be a leading voice in protecting Ireland’s interests in the trade negotiations, in calling for mitigation measures from any economic Brexit fallout and for presenting the case for Irish unity as a crucial mechanism to withstand the worst excesses of British Tory policies, which once again have no mandate in any part of Ireland. Go raibh maith agat, a Uachtarán.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). – Madam President, when somebody leaves after fifty years it is bound to be emotional and sad, and that is the way many of us feel here today. I can understand, like Guy Verhofstadt, that so many British citizens would ask me to vote against the Withdrawal Agreement. My heart says ‘yes’, but my head says ‘no’, because we have to respect the decision of the British people and let them leave with good grace and pay tribute to them, their Prime ministers, their ambassadors and above all their MEPs who played a mammoth role in building up the European Union. Especially for their friendship and support to us Irish MEPs and Ireland generally. They will continue to be our close allies for many years to come.

I am conscious that the young people of the United Kingdom did not want to leave and, for that reason, when their day comes, it is very likely they will decide to come back into the European Union. So instead of saying slán or goodbye, I say: à bientôt, beidh fáilte romhaibh ar ais. Go raibh maith agat, a Uachtarán.

 
  
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  Domènec Ruiz Devesa (S&D). – Madam President, it is, as has been said, a very sad day for the pro—Europeans, most of the Members of this House. We will be voting in favour of this agreement because there is no choice in order to avoid the worst, which is a no—deal Brexit.

I think it is important also to reply to some of the things that have been said by Mr Hannan and Mr Farage and Mr Van Orden. They said it is the fault of the Maastricht Treaty, that this was never meant to be a political union. I would ask you, have you ever read the Schuman Declaration of 1950, which says that the Coal and Steel Community was the first step forward to a European Federation? Why is it that Clement Attlee and Anthony Eden didn’t want to sign up to the Coal and Steel Community or to the Common Market? It was because of the pooling of sovereignty. So you decided to leave, but don’t give the wrong answers to the matter at hand. Good luck and see you soon.

 
  
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  Naomi Long (Renew). – Madam President, for me, today is a historic day but one of profound regret at the departure of the United Kingdom from its place of influence within the European Union. I will vote against the Withdrawal Agreement today to record the continued opposition of those whom I represent to this insular, isolationist and reckless course of action. But I want to place on record my thanks to Michel Barnier and his team for all they have done to mitigate that recklessness. The people of Northern Ireland rejected Brexit in 2016, and we are certainly not accepting it now.

(President: Could I just ask: we need to listen to the speakers, and there’s a lot of people to my right here who are having a great old chat. There’s a restaurant outside: go for a coffee. This is Ms Long’s last speech here in the Parliament. Please listen with respect.)

Whilst the UK may withdraw from these institutions, the people of Northern Ireland will never withdraw the hand of friendship, the spirit of cooperation, or the shared determination to secure peace and prosperity for all of our people. As a child of the Northern Ireland conflict, I’m grateful to the European Union, which helped shape our peace and which provides a model for pragmatic win-win politics based not on division but upon diversity. The decisions you make in this place will continue to shape the lives of the people I represent, and I look forward to forging new ways of ensuring that those close and enduring partnerships built between Northern Ireland and this place flourish. Finally, whilst we will no longer be colleagues in these institutions, I remain your steadfast colleague outside of them, as together we continue to champion the values of cooperation, interdependence and mutual respect which the European Union represents, until one day we rejoin you here. Au revoir, auf Wiedersehen, slán go fóill, good-bye for now.

 
  
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  Molly Scott Cato (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, in spite of the powerful campaign we’ve waged for 4 years, with grief and regret I accept that we will leave the European Union on Friday. Oh no, here come the tears. Our future as a country has no clear shape beyond a few slogans, and this means that we have some very important political tasks ahead. As the Brexit losses mount, we must counter the betrayal narrative, where those who promoted the doomed strategy tried to shift the blame for the damage onto the EU and onto those of us who argued against it. We must demonstrate compassion and solidarity with EU citizens living in the UK who feel vulnerable and fearful, and we must revitalise the friendship groups and twinning associations that thrived in the decades before we joined the EU. Now is not the time to campaign to rejoin, but we must keep the dream alive – especially for young people, who are overwhelmingly pro-European. I hold in my heart the knowledge that one day, I will be back in this Chamber celebrating our return to the heart of Europe.

 
  
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  Jaak Madison (ID). – Madam President, what a show tonight, again – for the last time finally. First of all, I will not cry. I will congratulate the British guys. The one thing I would like to mention is that last week the IMF was forecasting that the UK’s economy will grow in the next two years after Brexit faster than the eurozone economy. So it means that all those Remainers were lying before Brexit. They were lying that the UK will have a crash in the economy. So they were lying.

The second thing, if they are growing faster than the EU is doing, it means that the EU is doing something very wrong. If we are so successful, why are we so slow and they are so fast?

For the final statement, I really wish great parties and celebrations for Friday night. We will celebrate with you. Have nice drinks.

 
  
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  Anthea McIntyre (ECR). – Madam President, I want to really thank friends and colleagues from across all the political groups for great cooperation over many years. We have certainly not always agreed, but we have all worked for what we believe is in the best interests of the people we represent.

My overwhelming feeling is of a job well done, though not always understood back home. I am proud of all that my colleagues have achieved in here over many years and I want to pay tribute to the British Conservative MEPs who have gone before and contributed enormously to this Parliament and the legacy we leave behind. I want to thank previous speakers for their very generous remarks towards the UK. It is important that we leave on good terms with a climate of friendly cooperation for productive talks on a trade deal ahead. I am not saying it will be easy, but I do think that it is in the best interests of all of us.

Finally, I speak as a very proud daughter of a Scottish soldier who landed on D—Day on the beaches of Normandy. We are all Europeans. We are certainly leaving the European Institutions, but we are not leaving Europe.

 
  
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  David McAllister (PPE). – Madam President, for me, Brexit is and will remain a historic mistake. However, this Withdrawal Agreement provides now for an orderly exit of the UK from our EU by addressing all issues that have been of key importance for us in the European Parliament from the onset of the negotiations. We must now focus on our common future relations. I believe the EU should enter these negotiations from a position of certainty, good will, respect and mutual interest. At the same time, we need to acknowledge that our partnership will remain close, but will no longer be the same. We need to negotiate a truly ambitious and comprehensive new partnership with the UK, but because of the limited timeframe for negotiations, we cannot expect to agree on every single aspect of our new partnership. We will have to prioritise, as Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, has pointed out.

I would like to thank all members of the Brexit Steering Group for the very good work they have done, and I hope to continue their good work in the UK Coordination Group, which I’m honoured to chair. More than 100 meetings of the Brexit Steering Group is an impressive track record. Let me thank our colleagues, staff and especially Mr Guy Verhofstadt for his excellent work.

 
  
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  Katarina Barley (S&D). – Madam President, on this Holocaust remembrance day I would like to quote a great European, former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who said ‘rather debate a hundred hours in vain than shoot for one minute’. Why do I say that here and now? Because, yes, the European Union is complicated, slow, sometimes non—transparent, but it is the closest we have come to what Schmidt meant.

For me, the European Union is not only about trade and about finances – it is about values and it is about peace. My father is English. He was born in 1935, not far from a Royal Air Force Base and he loved, as a kid, to see the bombers rise into the sky. My mother is German, she was born in 1940 and she fled through the city of Dresden, the day after it was bombed. So the image that the bombers my father cherished almost killed my mother is something that brought me into politics in the first place. It will always be this image that keeps me going and that will keep me being a bridge between these two countries, a ‘bridge over troubled water’ at the moment, as Art Garfunkel would say. It is so sad to see you leaving, but you still have friends in this House.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Luisa Porritt (Renew). – Madam President, I will today vote against this deal. I do so on behalf of the millions of British people who voted to remain, including my constituents in London. Brexit is a regressive, reckless, right—wing project. The only people celebrating it outside the UK are those who wish to weaken us all. This decision is harmful for young people, our fellow Europeans living in the UK, and the most vulnerable. Over the last few days we have welcomed young Brits to this Parliament. They don’t want Brexit. They value common endeavours over isolationism. Brexit is now inevitable, but I don’t believe it will be permanent. Young Brits will one day lead the campaign for us to rejoin as committed members, invested in our shared European future. À bientôt, chers amis.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Aileen McLeod (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, as a Scottish MEP, I will be voting against the Withdrawal Agreement, as the majority of my country has mandated me to do. The people of Scotland have consistently voted against Brexit, and Scotland’s Parliament has refused to give its consent to this Brexit deal. The tragedy for Scotland is that, on Friday, Scotland will be dragged out of the EU against the democratic wishes of our people. Scotland is a European nation, and I look forward to an independent Scotland re—joining the EU – and we will soon – playing a positive role and promoting Europe’s values, international solidarity and cooperation as an equal partner.

I am proud to have been a Member of this Parliament of Europe’s citizens and I give you my word that Scotland’s Government will continue to protect the interests of all EU citizens who have chosen to make Scotland their home and have contributed to our society in so many important ways. When the moment comes for Scotland to re—join the EU, I hope this Parliament will welcome us in that same spirit of European solidarity. In the meantime, I hope very much that you will leave a light on for Scotland.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Laura Huhtasaari (ID). – Madam President, it’s the final countdown. Next Friday will be a glorious day for the United Kingdom. Brexit is the victory of the common British people against multinational corporations, special interests and other elites. The 2020s is the decade when the nation state makes the ultimate comeback in Europe. The supranational, unaccountable bureaucracy will be rolled back in favour of real democracy at national level. Britain will triumph outside of the EU. The island nation began a shining movement that cannot be stopped. Farewell to the Brexit Party, I love you guys.

 
  
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  Nosheena Mobarik (ECR). – Madam President, respected colleagues, Friday will see the UK leave the EU.

The result of the democratic referendum of 2016 will be honoured. That is as it should be. But I also know that it is the end of an era for myself, for my UK colleagues and for my country. Even those supportive of Brexit know that much has been accomplished through our membership of the EU, and as we look forward to the new opportunities of the future, we should, at the same time, always remember the achievements of the past. As I said recently in my last meeting of the Committee on International Trade, we require much good will and good faith in our negotiations for our future trading relationship, aiming for a successful outcome which will benefit both the UK and the EU, and I have every confidence that good faith exists and that a successful outcome will, indeed, be achieved.

My own view is that this is not the end of the UK’s relationship with Europe, but rather the start of a new and enhanced one. The bonds of friendship that bind our countries, all 28 of them, will endure, and, I hope, deepen still further as we work together in future productive partnership.

 
  
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  Esther de Lange (PPE). – Madam President, ‘how did we get here?’ Daniel Hannan asked at the beginning of this debate. I’m afraid, dear colleagues, that he didn’t give you a full answer. So let me try. We got here because so—called leaders who acted out of self—interest rather than out of the common good – Brexit or Remain, Boris didn’t really care, did he? He made up his mind at the last minute and saw a ticket into Downing Street’s No. 10.

This is, secondly, what happens when part of the media gets away with misinformation and blatant lies, when journalism, when the tabloids, become entertainment instead of information, democracy ultimately suffers and this is, thirdly, what happens when people no longer speak up for European cooperation.

We might – 75 years after the end of the Second World War in the West, I need to say – take peace, stability and democracy for granted. But let me tell you one thing: our Union is unique and our cooperation is very, very vulnerable. We need to cherish it, yes, we need to improve it, but we also need to speak out and defend it. Let that be the lesson that we take out of Brexit.

 
  
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  Theresa Griffin (S&D). – Madam President, every day in this House, a member of another delegation says ‘please stay, we want you to remain’. Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union is a political tragedy that will damage the economic well—being and social fabric of the UK and diminish our country’s standing in the world. We are British and European and part of the most successful social peace project in history. For the clean air we want for our children to eradicating energy poverty, to workers’ rights – that’s got to be worth fighting for.

I continue to believe that Britain has been and would be best served by being a member of the European Union. For our young people and future generations, keep the faith that one day we can come back. Thank you. Merci. Köszönöm. À bientôt. And to you, Mairead, go raibh maith agat!

 
  
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  Sheila Ritchie (Renew). – Madam President, thank you, Mr Barnier, thank you, Guy, thank you to the European Parliament for the way that you have treated us through the negotiation on this Withdrawal Agreement. I’m shocked but, frankly, not surprised that it took your intervention to protect the rights of the EU 27 citizens in Britain and the British citizens in the EU 27 countries. You people here have an opportunity next month to be generous to us again when you consider our status as citizens in your Europe going forward. Please be kind to us again. This shameful document, which I will vote against, is our reality today. I’m going home to fight for a better reality tomorrow.

 
  
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  Jordan Bardella (ID). – Madame la Présidente, nous y voilà donc enfin! Il aura donc fallu quatre ans.

Quatre ans de fausses promesses, de reports, de multiples tentatives de sabotage. Quatre ans pour que l’expression d’un peuple souverain par référendum soit enfin entendue. Les dirigeants de l’Union européenne veulent nous faire croire que la Grande-Bretagne est la grande perdante du Brexit et qu’elle s’apprête à sortir de l’Histoire, elle est au contraire en train d’y entrer en renouant avec les instruments qui fondent la liberté d’une nation. Les théories des peurs ne fonctionneront jamais contre le réel: le FMI l’admet désormais lui-même, l’économie britannique va bien et ses perspectives de croissance sont prometteuses.

Avec le Brexit, c’est un chapitre de l’histoire européenne qui se tourne, celui où l’on a cru, à tort, qu’affaiblir les souverainetés de chacun ferait la puissance de tous. Le vote de ce jour est un message d’espérance que le peuple britannique nous envoie. Il nous invite à refonder une construction européenne à la dérive afin de relever les défis de demain.

Amis britanniques, cette Europe des coopérations, nous allons la construire pour vous donner envie d’en être. Vous quittez l’Union européenne mais vous demeurez d’Europe, bon vent vers la liberté.

 
  
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  Βαγγέλης Μεϊμαράκης (PPE). – Κυρία Πρόεδρε, είναι αδιαμφισβήτητο ότι η σημερινή ψηφοφορία είναι ιστορικής σημασίας. Kατ’ αρχήν, θα ήθελα να δηλώσω απερίφραστα ότι το Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο πρέπει να αποτελεί στενό σύμμαχο της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης και ότι είναι ιδιαίτερα σημαντικό να υπάρξει αμοιβαία επωφελής εμπορική συμφωνία, ιδιαίτερα την ώρα που οι διεθνείς εμπορικοί κανόνες καταπατούνται και ο εμπορικός προστατευτισμός ξανακάνει την εμφάνισή του.

Δυστυχώς, αγαπητοί συνάδελφοι, το Brexit είναι σήμερα γεγονός. Είναι μια μέρα στενόχωρη και ιδιαίτερα φορτισμένη συναισθηματικά. Το κατά πόσο αυτό το γεγονός θα είναι ένα ιστορικό λάθος για το Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο θα κριθεί από τους ιστορικούς του μέλλοντος. Αυτό το οποίο εμείς, ως Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση, δεν πρέπει να επιτρέψουμε είναι να αποτελέσει ένα ιστορικό λάθος για την Ένωση. Πρέπει να διδαχθούμε από αυτά τα οποία οδήγησαν στο Brexit, να πράξουμε, να ηγηθούμε και να δείξουμε ότι οι αξίες της Ευρώπης είναι αδιαπραγμάτευτες, διαχρονικές και απόλυτα αναγκαίες. Γιατί, όπως είπε σοφά o Jean Monet, «η Ευρώπη θα σφυρηλατηθεί από κρίσεις και θα είναι το αποτέλεσμα των λύσεων που υιοθετήθηκαν από αυτές τις κρίσεις». Και αυτή η κρίση πρέπει να μετρήσει και να μετρήσει θετικά για την Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση.

 
  
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  Brando Benifei (S&D). – Signora Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, oggi è un giorno triste per chi come me crede nell'Unione sempre più stretta e nell'Europa federale. Rimane un dato storico e politico che nessun nazionalismo potrà cancellare. La Brexit non potrà cancellare le profonde connessioni tra la società europea e quella britannica, le appartenenze comuni, i valori che condividiamo, i nostri rapporti umani e culturali, prima che economici.

Come socialisti e democratici da domani lavoreremo affinché Unione europea e Regno Unito continuino ad affrontare insieme le grandi questioni del nostro tempo, dalla lotta alle disuguaglianze al cambiamento climatico.

Ai colleghi che oggi ci lasciano voglio dire grazie a tutti voi per lo straordinario lavoro fatto insieme e ai compagni del Partito laburista dico grazie, grazie per aver lavorato insieme a noi per il pane e per le rose (for bread and roses). So che è solo un arrivederci. È il nostro destino continuare a camminare insieme.

 
  
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  Judith Bunting (Renew). – Madam President, I can’t quite believe this is happening. However. I love the UK, and I will do everything I can to make sure that our future, whatever it is, is bright and successful. However. This is a bad deal for Britain and the fault for that lies at the feet of the British Government. The deal takes Britain outside of the customs union and the single market, something certain leading leavers said need never happen. In it, Boris Johnson has weakened support for workers’ rights, and he did that after he put the deal to the British people. It has more red tape, more delays, more barriers to Brits who want to work and do business with the EU, which is our largest trading partner, and it removes opportunities for young people in Britain. I thank all of my colleagues here for your lovely, kind words today. We will miss you. I thank Guy Verhofstadt and Michel Barnier and this Brexit Steering Group for the huge amount of work that they all put into this deal, but I will not be blackmailed by Boris Johnson into supporting a deal that is fundamentally bad for Britain.

 
  
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  Siegfried Mureşan (PPE). – Madam President, today marks the end of populism in the debate regarding Brexit. Starting tomorrow, we need to start to work on our future relationship and that needs to be based on reasoning and on facts. We have to recognise reality: European students want to continue to study in UK universities and British students want to continue to study in European universities. European and British researchers want to continue to work together and businesses on both sides of the Channel want to continue to invest on the other side.

We also have to recognise that the number of British citizens demanding EU citizenship has increased every year after the referendum. So we need to work on a good future relationship and we need to recognise that a close relationship is a good relationship.

Nevertheless, of course, we also know that the European Union and the United Kingdom will not be married any more, starting on 1 February, but we want to be friends. The people of the United Kingdom should know that, here in the European Parliament, there is a majority of Members who want to be friends of the British people.

 
  
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  Martin Horwood (Renew). – Madam President, I’m voting against this agreement because it’s a bad deal for Britain and I, for one, will ‘not go gently into that good night’. But before that vote I’d like to say thank you to all parliamentary colleagues, to Dacian Cioloș and friends in the Renew Europe Group whom I have been proud to serve as a vice-president, and thank you to the EU for all the support given to my region and my country over decades, in education, science and medicine, in shared prosperity, opportunity and support for business, in protection of the environment and workers’ rights and by preserving Europe’s peace – and let me tell you that my parents survived the war we remembered earlier and they knew exactly what they were voting for in 1975.

One special thank you to our translators, who have had to help the Brits rather more than most, and I apologise to them that I am now going to try and speak in more than one language to deliver one last message, as much on behalf of my children as myself: Wir werden wieder kommen. Ne vom intoarce. We komen terug. Nous reviendrons. Volveremos. Beimid ar ais. Vi kommer tillbaka. Retornaremos. We will be back.

 
  
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  François-Xavier Bellamy (PPE). – Madame la présidente, chers collègues, avant tout, nous voudrions dire nos remerciements à tous nos collègues britanniques pour leur contribution au travail effectué ici, notre respect pour le grand peuple qu’ils représentent et notre gratitude à l’égard de ce peuple auquel nous devons, au regard de notre histoire, notre liberté, celle qu’ils nous ont acquise au prix de leur sang.

Nous devons évidemment poursuivre maintenant cette histoire et nous faisons confiance à Michel Barnier pour préparer notre relation future. Nous devons construire ensemble le partenariat sur les questions de sécurité, d’économie, d’écologie – et je voudrais mentionner en particulier la question de la pêche, qui nous tient tellement à cœur. Nous avons tant à partager, il faut que cette amitié se poursuive maintenant.

Mes chers collègues, ne nous voilons pas la face. Le Brexit est aussi un message d’alerte. La défiance qui s’est exprimée à l’occasion de ce référendum doit être pour nous un avertissement. Nous ne résoudrons pas les problèmes de l’Europe en méprisant cette défiance ou en la condamnant. Nous ne résoudrons ce problème qu’en reconstruisant une Europe qui puisse susciter la confiance des citoyens de nos pays, en faisant la preuve de son efficacité et en montrant qu’elle peut renforcer nos démocraties et servir nos libertés.

 
  
  

PRESIDENZA DELL'ON. DAVID MARIA SASSOLI
Presidente

 
  
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  Michel Barnier, chef de la task-force pour les relations avec le Royaume-Uni – Monsieur le Président, je suis très touché, pour vous dire la vérité, au terme de ce débat qui a été très émouvant à quelques moments particuliers, grave, qui est important, aux côtés de la présidente Ursula von der Leyen, de vous dire quelques mots pour conclure.

Le Royaume-Uni, à la suite d’un référendum où s’est exprimée démocratiquement une majorité de citoyens, a choisi de quitter l’Union. Nous avons, pour beaucoup d’entre nous, regretté et nous continuerons de regretter ce vote, mais nous l’avons respecté et donc la tâche qui nous a été confiée à la Commission par les gouvernements, par vous, a été de travailler pour organiser ce retrait. Si le traité qui vous est soumis a une qualité, mesdames et messieurs – je reprendrai le mot de Guy Verhofstadt –, c’est d’organiser le retrait du Royaume-Uni de manière ordonnée. Le Brexit, bien plus et bien davantage que tous ceux qui l’ont voulu nous l’ont expliqué ou compris, a des conséquences innombrables – je n’ai cessé de vous le dire – sur le plan humain et social, sur le plan technique et juridique, sur le plan financier et économique, et ce n’est pas fini. Ce que nous avons essayé de faire dans ce traité, objectivement, avec patience et avec respect, a été d’apporter des réponses ou des assurances juridiques pour toutes celles et tous ceux et pour tous les secteurs où le Brexit, comme un divorce, crée des incertitudes innombrables. D’abord, les citoyens et leurs droits ont été depuis le début de cette négociation votre priorité. Nous avons travaillé pour ce traité dans cet esprit: un retrait ordonné. Et nous avons beaucoup travaillé: une centaine de réunions du Brexit steering group (groupe de pilotage sur le Brexit), 17 séances plénières et puis j’ai eu l’honneur de rendre compte devant la plupart de vos groupes à plusieurs reprises. En ce moment, je voudrais dire un mot particulier à Guy Verhofstadt pour l’intelligence et l’objectivité avec lesquelles il a dirigé pendant trois ans les travaux du Brexit steering group, à chacune et chacun des membres de ce groupe et à tous ceux qui ont travaillé pour ce groupe, notamment le secrétariat général du Parlement et vos collaborateurs. Vous me permettrez de vous dire que nous allons continuer, dans l’année qui vient, dans le même esprit, avec le même respect, avec la même objectivité, sans aucune agressivité, mais en défendant fermement les intérêts de l’Union et de ses États membres, sur la ligne et selon les principes rappelés tout à l’heure par notre présidente Ursula von der Leyen pour la future relation. En ayant toujours la perspective – j’ai toujours travaillé avec cette perspective – qu’au-delà du Brexit, le Royaume-Uni reste là. Partenaire proche sur le plan de l’économie, allié comme il l’a toujours été et ami. Nous allons donc travailler pour recréer un nouveau cadre juridique pour cette alliance entre l’Union européenne et le Royaume-Uni, pour consolider cette amitié et faire fonctionner ce partenariat.

Nous aurons une deuxième tâche, mesdames et messieurs les députés, Monsieur le Président, qui n’est pas négligeable et qu’il ne faut pas oublier: c’est de mettre en œuvre cet accord dans toutes ses dimensions et ce sera notre travail cette année pour qu’il soit opérationnel à la fin de l’année. Je pense aux droits des citoyens et je pense aussi précisément à l’Irlande et à l’Irlande du Nord, où la paix reste très fragile.

Vous me permettrez à mon tour, comme l’a fait notre présidente, de saluer l’ensemble des députés britanniques et toutes celles et tous ceux qui, d’une manière ou d’une autre ont travaillé depuis 47 ans à la construction de ce projet européen. Personnellement, j’ai le souvenir de plusieurs d’entre vous et de plusieurs élus. Je pense à Andrew Duff et Richard Corbett durant les travaux de la convention. Je pense aussi, aux deux moments où j’ai eu l’honneur d’être commissaire européen au marché intérieur et avant à la politique régionale, à Malcom Harbour, à Vicky Ford, à Sharon Bowles et à tant et tant d’entre vous dans la diversité des groupes que vous représentez, avec lesquels j’ai eu toujours des discussions fructueuses, importantes et utiles. Je voulais vous remercier, à titre personnel.

Vous me permettrez juste de conclure par trois brefs messages. Le premier est que tout au long de cette négociation et dans l’année qui vient, notre tâche a été et va être de traiter les conséquences du Brexit, mais je recommande, comme plusieurs d’entre vous l’ont dit avec beaucoup de force, que dans notre responsabilité politique – et je reste un homme politique – nous prenions du temps pour écouter le sentiment populaire qui s’est exprimé à l’occasion du Brexit, qui s’exprime aussi dans beaucoup de nos régions: que nous prenions du temps pour tirer les leçons du Brexit.

Le deuxième point s’appuie sur une conférence qu’a donnée un jour un homme que j’aime bien, que je respecte, qui était mon collègue à la Commission européenne, conservateur et britannique, Chris Patten. Un jour, à Dublin, il a fait une conférence qu’il a conclue par cette question: la défense de l’intérêt national peut-elle être uniquement nationale? La défense de l’intérêt national peut-elle être seulement, uniquement, nationale. On pourrait poser la question d’une autre manière: ne faut-il pas être européen en plus d’être patriote? Je dis bien: en plus, pas à la place d’être patriote. Moi, j’ai la conviction que l’on peut, que l’on doit être patriote – je le suis passionnément – et en même temps européen, et que cette dimension européenne donne davantage de force à notre patriotisme national.

(Applaudissements)

Mr President, let me finish with a short message I passed on in Belfast on Monday at Queen’s University: in this new beginning, I would really and sincerely like to wish the UK well.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Nikolina Brnjac, President-in-Office of the Council. – Mr President, with your vote tonight and adoption by the Council tomorrow of its decision to conclude the Withdrawal Agreement we will soon be able to move to another, more positive step in the Brexit process. The scope of the Withdrawal Agreement as well as the ambitions on the future relations with the UK imply that we will have to remain vigilant as regards, first and foremost, the preservation of citizens’ rights, be it during the transition period or under whatever future relationship with the United Kingdom. But our vigilance will have to be no less thorough when considering the intended economic partnership where strong safeguards and robust governance will be called for to protect the integrity of the EU’s single market and the competitive position of EU firms. We will therefore count on your cooperation in this respect as well.

Although we are sincerely sad to see a Member State leaving, the European Union and the United Kingdom share a long history together, and this should truly be a new starting point for the building of a closer relationship in the future, based on mutual respect and equality.

 
  
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  Presidente. – La discussione è chiusa.

Procediamo ora alla votazione su questo punto. Vi informo che le dichiarazioni di voto saranno prese in considerazione domani dopo le votazioni.

Dichiarazioni scritte (articolo 171)

 
  
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  Andrus Ansip (Renew), kirjalikult. – Ühendkuningriigi lahkumine EList ei ole kindlasti rõõmus sündmus, kuid ma austan nende rahva tahet. Pean oluliseks Ühendkuningriigi korrakohast lahkumist ega pea õigeks leppeta lahkumist, mis tooks kaasa suurema segaduse. On Euroopa Liidu 27 liikmesriigi ja Ühendkuningriigi elanike huvides, et suhted ELi ja Ühendkuningriigi vahel oleksid head ka pärast lahkumist.

 
  
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  Carmen Avram (S&D), în scris. – Ieșirea Marii Britanii din Uniunea Europeană va aduce schimbări radicale, multe la care, probabil, nici măcar nu ne așteptăm. Singurele pe care nu ni le putem permite sub nicio formă sunt cele referitoare la respectarea drepturilor celor trei milioane de cetățeni europeni care se află acum pe teritoriul Regatului Unit.

Comunitatea cu cea mai mare migrație din ultimii doi ani a fost cea românească, ajunsă astăzi la peste 400 000 de cetățeni, prima ca pondere în Londra, și a doua la nivel național, după polonezi. Comisia trebuie să se asigure că acești oameni nu vor suferi discriminări în procesul de selectare a angajaților, că nu vor fi refuzate împrumuturile guvernamentale acordate azi studenților, că nu le vor fi majorate taxele în universități și că nu li se va îngrădi dreptul de a lucra în Marea Britanie după absolvire.

În ultimele decenii, comunitatea provenită din restul Uniunii a contribuit masiv la dezvoltarea Marii Britanii, inclusiv la bugetul țării. Pentru toți acești oameni, anularea acestor drepturi ar fi o nedreptate, iar pentru Marea Britanie, o pierdere atât umană, cât și economică.

 
  
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  Cristian-Silviu Buşoi (PPE), in writing. – I would first express my regret for the departure of our British colleagues, with whom we achieved important results for both European and British citizens, reflected in more than 47 years of common economic development. In my capacity as Chair of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy of the European Parliament, I stress the importance to foster dialogue and establish new comprehensive agreements regarding UK’s participation in Union programmes in areas of common interest, such as research, defence and space. Future collaboration in energy sector will be key for the United Kingdom to ensure that exit from the EU doesn’t disrupt its electricity market and does not slow down its de-carbonisation commitment by 2050. Future relations should include as well a wide-raging nuclear cooperation agreement on the use of nuclear energy, underpinned by commitments to existing high standards of nuclear safety. I am looking forward to establishing a strong post-Brexit collaboration by the end of 2020, as I consider that both the European Union and the United Kingdom can achieve more together than apart.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), por escrito. – A saída do Reino Unido da União Europeia concretiza a vontade expressa pelo povo britânico, através de um referendo, e representa uma derrota de todos aqueles que, nos últimos anos, por meios diversos, tentaram contrariar esta decisão. Esta saída corresponde a um acontecimento histórico, de um enorme significado político.

O processo de integração - que não é uma integração qualquer, não é uma integração neutra, é uma integração capitalista - não é irreversível, não é inevitável e não conhece apenas um sentido. Muito se disse já sobre as motivações que ditaram este desfecho. Certamente que para ele terão contribuído motivações e sentimentos diversos, até contraditórios. Mas será seguro afirmar que, mesmo com motivações contraditórias, esta saída resulta de um inequívoco desejo de rutura, que sucede a uma profunda insatisfação. Insatisfação que é inseparável das consequências sociais e económicas das políticas da União Europeia. Insatisfação que é inseparável do sentimento de que os povos foram espoliados de instrumentos essenciais para determinar os seus destinos. Ora, a este sentimento, sobreveio a vontade de recuperar o controlo sobre decisões fundamentais que afetam esses destinos. A soberania não se perde, não se ganha. A soberania exerce-se. Esta é outra das lições que podemos retirar deste processo - algo que alguns tudo fazem para esconder.

 
  
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  Εμμανουήλ Φράγκος (ECR), γραπτώς. – Οι πολίτες του Ηνωμένου Βασιλείου προτίμησαν και ψήφισαν το Brexit, διότι η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση φάνηκε αδύναμη μπροστά στις σύγχρονες προκλήσεις. Συγκεκριμένα, έχει χαθεί πλήρως ο έλεγχος των μεταναστευτικών ροών προς την ΕΕ και η κοινότητα αδυνατεί έως και σήμερα να λάβει μέτρα για την προστασία των συνόρων και της ομοιογένειας της. Πιστεύουμε ότι η γερμανική ηγεμονία της Ένωσης και η βλαπτική πολιτική που ακολούθησε εις βάρος των πιο αδύναμων κρατών μελών (με χαρακτηριστική περίπτωση αυτήν την Ελλάδας) και προς όφελος της οικονομίας των πιο ισχυρών ήταν ένας ακόμη βασικός λόγος του Brexit. Είναι σημαντικό να ληφθεί μέριμνα στο μέλλον για την εξάλειψη αυτών των εγγενών αδυναμιών της Ένωσης, πριν οδηγηθούν και άλλα κράτη μέλη σε απόφαση εξόδου. Είναι σημαντικό, επίσης, να οικοδομηθεί μια στενή οικονομική, πολιτική και εμπορική συνεργασία της ΕΕ με το Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο προς όφελος των πολιτών του Ηνωμένου Βασιλείου και προς όφελος όλων των Ευρωπαίων πολιτών.

 
  
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  Agnes Jongerius (S&D), in writing. – The fact that the UK is no longer member of the EU does not mean that all of a sudden it does not need better protection for its platform workers anymore or an increase of the minimum wage. Quite the opposite! As a social democrat I realise that unity makes strength. Only together we can take on big platforms and asocial multinationals. By exchanging information, ideas, know-how and eventually proper regulation, we will still be able to help each other, with the EU connecting us. We have a common interest that the UK will not turn into a second Singapore on Thames. I am sure that the relationships that were built in the European Parliament will remain close, long after the Brexit. Our shared values will continue to bring us together.

 
  
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  Ondřej Kovařík (Renew), in writing. – Friday, 31 January 2020 is not a happy date in the history of European integration, but it is good that we can put the difficult negotiations on the withdrawal agreement behind us and start focusing on the most important task: negotiating our future relationship with United Kingdom. The countdown starts Friday midnight. Time is tight and the number of issues and challenges to deal with are enormous. Let’s keep in mind that the UK is leaving the European Union, but not Europe. We will still remain partners, allies and most of all, friends, although the institutional set-up will change. We will still share the same values, the same economic interests such as free trade, the same security concerns and the same responsibilities to be strong global actors promoting peace and stability in our neighbourhood and in the world. In the negotiations, let’s be ambitious and pragmatic, let’s talk frankly and openly, but let’s always remain constructive and flexible. This is the only way to build a solid foundation for our future relationship which should be nothing less than a true strategic partnership.

 
  
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  Eva Maydell (PPE), in writing. – The UK is leaving the EU today but we should aim to start real partnership with our former allies. For the next 11 months we need put our efforts to achieve single comprehensive partnership agreement wit the UK. It should be based on mutual trust, respecting of interest and a general level playing field. In the process of negotiations the EU should insist on real safeguards for the rights of its citizens after the end of the transition period. Secondly, the EU should not compromise with its standards if the UK does not wish to alight to but insists on access to the European market. Thirdly, the EU should not tolerate any attempts for separate bilateral negotiations between the UK and the Member States, as this will ruin our unity.

The EU on the other hand should seek deeper partnership with the EU in specific sectors like defence, protection and exchange of data, external security. This should ensure that the UK remains a valuable partner in support of the global security.

 
  
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  Peter Pollák (PPE), písomne. – Nie som nadšencom odchodu Británie z Európskej únie. To, že dnes musíme hlasovať o dohode o odchode Británie z EÚ, je pre mňa sklamaním. Verím však, že to nie je koniec vzájomných vzťahov. Stále máme veľa toho, čo nás spája. Dnes je dôležité zintenzívniť prácu na oboch stranách, aby sa dohoda presadzovala a reálne uplatňovala. Som presvedčený, že ľudia vo Veľkej Británii nemali objektívne informácie pri referende, kde sa rozhodli odísť. Hlasovanie v Europarlamente však nebolo o odchode, nebolo to o tom, či ja chcem, aby Británia odišla. Bolo o dohode, či odíde Británia k 31. januáru riadnym a náležitým spôsobom.

 
  
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  Bronis Ropė (Verts/ALE), raštu. – Jungtinė Karalystė nuo sausio 31-osios nakties oficialiai nebebus Europos Sąjungos narė. Bet tai tik proceso pradžia, pereinamasis išstojimo laikotarpis truks apie metus. Šiandien turime eiti pirmyn. Nors ir netikiu, kad būdami atskirai esame stipresni, turime vykdyti žmonių valią. Sutarties nebuvimas sukeltų dar didesnį chaosą. Šis „išsiskyrimas“ yra liūdnas abiem pusėms. Daug daugiau temų mus jungia nei skiria. Jungtinė Karalystė niekur nedingsta, turėsime sukurti naujus tarpusavio santykius, naujus būdus bendradarbiauti. Pirmiausia užduotis – užtikrinti ES piliečių, gyvenančių ir dirbančių D. Britanijoje, teises. Taip pat – britų teises Europos Sąjungoje. O šiandien tariu savo kolegoms iki greito pasimatymo, tikėdamas, kad vieną dieną jie vėl dirbs Europos Parlamente drauge.

 
  
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  Michaela Šojdrová (PPE), in writing. – This is the last time I can speak to my UK colleagues who will no longer be EU citizens this Saturday. According to my opinion and that of my voters, the United Kingdom has always been for us a great symbol of freedom and parliamentary democracy, a symbol of excellent business, education, culture and science. I would like to assure you, my dear British and Northern Irish friends, that in the EU, you’ll always find plenty of helping hands. Brexit will not change it. I hope you manage to transform your ‘new independence from the EU’ into something new positive. Because independence of country is not possible without cooperation with others, especially in today’s highly interconnected, globalised world. When you will wake up on 1 February, the world will be equally unsafe and dangerous as it is today. That’s why I believe that we will have to negotiate a good agreement for the benefit of both UK and EU citizens. And what is most important, that we will always jointly protect the security and peace in Europe, both insular and continental.

 
  
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  Romana Tomc (PPE), pisno. – Velika Britanija zapušča EU. Posledice izstopa bomo čutili na obeh straneh, zmagovalca ni.

Na obeh straneh se bomo morali prilagodili spremenjenim razmeram, sklenili bomo nove sporazume in se naučili živeti skupaj v novih razmerah in z novimi pravili. Zaprli smo eno poglavje, uredili pogoje za urejen izstop, v nadaljevanju pa nas čaka naporna naloga. Naše sodelovanje na gospodarskem in drugih področjih je močno prepleteno. Veliko ljudi iz držav članic EU je zaposlenih v Veliki Britaniji in veliko Britancev dela v EU. To bomo morali rešiti na čim bolj pravičen način. Nič več ne bo tako kot je bilo, ne pravice ne obveznosti.

Vendar se lahko dogovorimo za pravila sodelovanja, ki bodo v korist obeh strani, predvsem pa ljudi in podjetij, ki jih bo Brexit najbolj prizadel.

 
  
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  Henna Virkkunen (PPE), kirjallinen. – Arvoisa puhemies, Iso-Britannia jättää pian Euroopan unionin. Olen iloinen, että sopimukseton ero vältetään, mutta surullinen siitä, että britit päättivät lähteä.

Kun jälkikäteen katsoo historiaan, voi helposti sanoa brexitin olleen tekeillä jo pitkään. Viimeinen pisara oli brittikonservatiivien antautuminen EU-vastaisten paineelle ja lupaus kansanäänestyksestä. Se oli historiallinen virhe. Mielestäni on rehellistä sanoa suoraan, että kansanäänestyksen tulos perustui pitkälti puutteelliselle tiedolle sekä täysin katteettomille lupauksille, joita niiden antajien on äärimmäisen vaikea toteuttaa. Brexit on surullinen esimerkki siitä, mihin populismi voi johtaa.

EU:n ja Britannian katseet on nyt välittömästi suunnattava uusiin neuvotteluihin, joissa määritetään unionin ja Britannian tuleva suhde. Neuvottelujen aikataulu on äärettömän tiukka. On kuitenkin haettava sopimusta, joka takaa EU:n ja Britannian välille tiiviin suhteen ja tuo mahdollisimman vähän esteitä. Ihmisten mahdollisuus hakeutua jatkossakin työhön ja opintoihin, samoin kuin yritysten sujuva kaupankäynti, eli tavaroiden ja palveluiden liikkuminen yli rajojen, ovat aivan keskeisimmät kysymykset. Suuri merkitys on myös sillä, minkälaiseksi EU:n ja Britannian suhde muodostuu ulko- ja turvallisuuspoliittisesta näkökulmasta. Britannia on Euroopan suurin sotilasmahti.

Britannian EU-ero on monelle – myös itselleni – tunteellinen hetki. Myöhemmin tunteilulle jää melko vähän tilaa. Ratkaistavia kysymyksiä on monia ja työtä edessä paljon.

 
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