In today’s debate, speakers on behalf of political groups representing the majority of MEPs declared their continuing support for the withdrawal agreement.
Stressing that a “no-deal” scenario should be avoided, most speakers also expressed their regret that the UK has decided to leave the European Union and voiced their support for a public confirmatory vote in the UK on the withdrawal agreement, should the UK government decide to proceed in this manner – provided that a viable majority or cross-party consensus is achieved in the UK House of Commons before 12 April.
Most speakers highlighted that, although the withdrawal agreement itself is the best and only deal available, the political declaration on the EU-UK future relationship that accompanies it provides for significant flexibility and could be amended if that would help resolve the situation. Examples mentioned included a customs union, a Norway-type relationship and EEA membership.
It was also made clear that a long extension, if requested by the UK government for appropriate reasons, should be considered to accommodate the above scenarios. An extension should respect the upcoming European elections and in no way undermine the functioning of the EU institutions. Finally, almost all speakers reiterated that protecting EU citizens’ rights remains an absolute priority.