Debating the European Council Meeting
Not surprisingly MEPs were keen to debate the results of the European Council meeting last week on Brexit today in Strasbourg.
You can find a series on video clips on my social media and also a copy of my speech below.
My Speech to the European Parliament
Thank you very much. Gianni, I admire your idealism when you were speaking. It’s important we all tackle poverty, but I prefer community-led solutions rather than top-down.
It’s important we all tackle poverty, but I prefer community-led solutions rather than top-down.
But let me just correct you on one of the myths that you just highlighted, which is that Robin Hood’s motivation, let us remember,
Robin Hood stole money from the tax collector to give money back to the taxpayers. Let us remember that when we are looking at the Robin Hood story. But last week’s council meeting highlighted one simple fact – that the EU is sometimes in danger of allowing idealism to get the better of pragmatism.
It is certainly true when looking at the European Council’s and Parliament’s positions on the migration package and negotiations with the UK. Now, the ECR
Group welcomes much in the Council’s current strategy in tackling the migrant crisis; closing trafficking routes across the Mediterranean; strengthening cooperation with
international partners; returning unsuccessful applicants; and strengthening the role of Frontex. Two years ago, the ECR published these papers that called for exactly
these kinds of sensible measures. And maybe if they had been introduced at the time, then maybe there would be more confidence in our migration and asylum system
today. But instead this parliament appears to have a position on the Dublin Regulation that throws out the rule book and long-established international asylum laws, to
pursue a relocation system which has not exactly been a success. With proposals which mean that an asylum seeker would no longer have their application processed or
even have a first admissibility check in the country they arrive in. And continuing to force quotas on countries which already have said they do not support relocation.
This approach gives asylum seekers false hope- and EU citizens false solutions. These proposals will not increase solidarity, but they may increase voters’ frustration with
Politicians. So please, let us rethink the unintended consequences of the Parliament’s proposals in a pragmatic way.
And on the Brexit negotiations, let us be more pragmatic. As a British MEP, who leads one of the largest political groups in this house, who enjoys good relations with people
On both sides of the negotiating table, and who wants a mutually beneficial deal, I hope that we avoid becoming trapped by the sequencing of negotiations. For there to be
real progress, we must take a step back and look at the process as a whole. Just as there needs to be an understanding from the UK as to where the EU27 are coming from.
There also needs to be an understanding from the EU27, as to where the British people are coming. The UK joined the EEC 40 years ago because more than anything it believed
in open trade. That was the UK’s main motivation in creating the UK’s future relationship with the EU and vice-versa. Perhaps the more the EU talks about the issues that resonate
with the UK, it may find the more the UK is willing to give more concessions on the issues the EU27 care most about and prioritise.
So on both migration and UK negotiations, we may all find that while idealism may be a wonderful way to view the world and sequencing may appear to be perfectly logical, it will be pragmatism
that delivers the solutions we all want to see.