The Malta Independent 11 August 2022, Thursday

EPP president insists party has a united front regarding Brexit, ‘but UK must pay divorce bills’

Gabriel Schembri Wednesday, 29 March 2017, 12:57 Last update: about 6 years ago

The President of the European People’s Party, Joseph Daul believes that his party has a united front with regards to its position on Brexit, as UK Prime Minister Theresa May is to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty for the Functioning of the European Union later today.

Addressing a press conference as the EPP Malta congress kicked off, Joseph Daul said that the process following Brexit should not last more than two years. He said that, for the EPP, the largest political family in the European Parliament, the priority remains to protect its citizens.

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“We are committed that, during this process, we protect the rights of our citizens. The bill for the withdrawal has to be paid by the British. Similarly, in divorce, the party that decides to leave also has to pay the bills.”

Mr Daul said that the EU must remain friends during the negotiations, but remain firm at the same time.

“EPP wants to give a better Europe for its citizens. Our objective is to state the vision where to head to in the next decade. We have to be open for those heading for deeper integration and accept the decision for those wanting to leave,” he added.

EPP Secretary General of the EPP Antonio Lopez Isturiz said that EU must do its best to defend the European dream. “We are here to debate the topics which are affecting the EU citizens. Immigration, border controls, social justice, Libya and minorities in Northern Iraq and definitely, Malta is the right place to do all this.

Mr Lopez Isturiz has challenged the Socialist party in the European Parliament to organise such a massive gathering. “The socialist family is divided,” he said.

He claimed that the Maltese Prime Minister was making frantic calls to have EPP members visit him for a photo opportunity. “But this is not about photos,” he said.

“I remember when Joseph Muscat was campaigning against Malta's membership of the EU. His opinion changed now. Simon Busuttil’s decisions do not change with the wind,” he said while praising Simon Busuttil’s commitment to the EU.

Nationalist Party leader, Simon Busuttil, who is hosting the event, said that the congress to be held in Malta for the first time is a sign of trust in him and in the PN.

This congress is coming at a very interesting time, he said. “This is the last year before the general elections in Malta. This congress is also coming at an interesting time for Europe, the stat of the reckoning for the UK, but also for Europe. May’s letter will imply significant changes and also needs significant reflection.”

Commenting on Brexit, Simon Busuttil said that this is the result of populism. “But populism is not limited to the UK. Populists speak about problems, but never offer solutions. Populists claim they speak on behalf of the people, we claim we provide solutions for the people.”

He said EPP is supporting his efforts in Malta and promised his commitment to deliver another EPP government.

EPP President Daul complimented the PN leader of the organisation and for leading the Nationalist Party as a great European Partner. Replying to questions by journalists, Mr Daul said that there is a situation in which countries who have expressed their desire to join the EU, are not ready to do so. “We have to be honest and avoid making the same mistake with Turkey. However, when it comes to neighbourhoods, it’s an issue of never say never. What we need to do is see which countries are really interested to live with European values.

Dr Busuttil said that no one would have imagined, sixty years ago, that these countries would want to join forces and form the EU. “They had every reason not to, but still they managed because they had vision and leadership.”

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