Europe is 60 years in the making and it cannot be sacrificed or shaped by the actions of a ‘go it alone’ nation, no matter how big that country is, Mairead McGuinness MEP and first Vice-President of the European Parliament will tell a regional meeting of the Eisenhower Fellowship of Ireland in Dundalk, (Saturday 4th November).
McGuinness says there is a major debate underway about the future shape of the EU and there is a danger that Ireland may be fixated on Brexit and island of Ireland issues, while the other EU member states are looking to the future beyond Brexit.
“The mood music has changed substantially in the last six months, and it is future orientated. If we neglect to make a strong input into the debate about the future of Europe we could do so at our peril,” she warns. “We have to find the political space to keep a sharp eye on all of these issues, being mindful of our specific concerns around Brexit but also to contribute strongly to the shaping of the future of the EU.”
Ms McGuinness said there is an increase in popular support for the EU in many member states since Brexit.
“This does not mean that people are happy with the status quo, but rather that there is a belief, perhaps an emerging realisation for some, that the EU is worth sticking with, even if it’s in need of reform and renewal.”
Specifically on Brexit she says there is strong agreement between the member states that progress must be made on citizens’ rights, the Irish border and the financial settlement before there is any negotiation on a future trading relationship with the U.K.
“In recent weeks, we have seen an attempt by the U.K. to move away from the agreed approach to the negotiations as they try to force a discussion on the future relationship and transition phase.
“This has been rebuffed by the EU and it will be interesting to see how the negotiations proceed next week.”
She says money is a big sticking point. “The EU is rightly resisting any attempt by the UK to link its financial commitments to a future deal.”
“Brexit will impact on every single aspect of the lives of citizens in the UK. Reluctance to publish over 50 reports on the potential impacts is depriving UK citizens of vital information about their future. I would urge the British Government to publish these reports immediately and facilitate an informed public debate on the best way forward.
“For its part the European Parliament has carried out and published a number of studies on the impact of Brexit across the sectors,” she added.
Any final deal on Brexit will have to be ratified by the European Parliament.