Joseph Daul, President of the European People’s Party (EPP) described the work of EU Brexit Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier as “remarkable”. He was addressing EPP members following a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels on December 14 and ahead of the European Council.

“The joint report presented last week by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May, paves the way to enter into the second phase of the negotiations. The 27 EU member states stood united and the results are here. This could not have happened without the remarkable work of EU Brexit Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier,” he said.

According to Daul, the document proposes concrete guarantees for the citizens on both sides of the Channel. It also shows a strong commitment to avoid a hard border in Ireland and an agreement on the financial settlement.

“These are the three priorities the EPP has been fighting for,” said Daul. “We expect the UK to act in good faith and respect the terms of the joint report, which needs to be translated into legally binding terms as soon as possible. We are also waiting for the UK to present its vision for the future relationship with the EU.”

Addressing Ireland, Daul said “our Irish friends” and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar have “our full support and can count on us to make sure that the terms outlined in the joint report will be respected”.

He also said the EPP has been the driving force behind the Permanent Structured Cooperation on defence and security and led the way towards these concrete results. European defence has now entered a new era.

“As Europeans are expecting us to provide a secure Europe, the EPP has made a priority for PESCO to become a reality,” said Daul.

Finally, the EPP President congratulated the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and wished a lot of success to Bulgaria, which will start its EU presidency next month.

“Under Estonia’s helm, the European Union has become more connected, with for example the construction of the high-speed 5G internet connection, the end of geoblocking and the EU’s first electronic signature,” said Daul. “Estonia’s EU presidency has been very successful with the agreement on reducing emissions from non-industrial sectors or the foundation of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office.”

The EPP is the largest and most influential European-level political party of the centre-right, which currently includes 77 member parties and partners from 41 countries, the presidents of the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament.