The Conference of Presidents indicated that the Withdrawal Agreement is fair and balanced and the only deal possible. It is therefore one not open to renegotiation.
The Conference of Presidents, together with the Brexit Steering Group, discussed today the state of play of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
The Conference took note that the meaningful vote in the House of Commons on the Withdrawal Agreement had been deferred and that the UK Prime Minister had held meetings yesterday with a number of European leaders to explore ways to facilitate the UK’s ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement.
The Withdrawal agreement and Political Declaration are the only deal possible
The Conference reconfirmed its view that the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration are fair and balanced and represent, given EU principles, current UK red lines and the commitments set out in the Good Friday Agreement, the only deal possible to ensure an orderly withdrawal from the European Union. It stressed that renegotiating the backstop was not possible since it is the guarantee that in whatever circumstances there could be no hardening of the border on the island of Ireland. The Conference reiterated that without a backstop Parliament would not give its consent to the Withdrawal Agreement.
Backstop is a last resort measure
The Conference also reiterated its support for as close as possible future EU-UK relationship such that the deployment of the backstop would not be necessary. The President and group leaders reaffirmed that the backstop is in any case to be used only as a measure of last resort. All efforts to make this point clear were welcomed.
No transition period without ratification of the Withdrawal agreement
The Conference noted that failure to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement would mean no transition period following the exit from the EU. It called on the Commission and the Member States to continue and intensify their work on no-deal planning.
Citizens’ rights remain a priority for the EP
The Conference finally noted that Parliament’s consent to the Withdrawal Agreement would be facilitated by UK government assurances as regards implementation of the citizens’ rights provisions of the Agreement in those areas outlined in BSG correspondence with the Home Office.
The Conference of Presidents agreed to return to the issue of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union at its next meeting.