Left MEPs took to the plenary session of the European Parliament today to once again remind the European Commission that future citizens’ rights and the island of Ireland must not be sacrificed in pursuit of a Brexit agreement with the UK government.
The Parliament is due to vote on a Resolution in Strasbourg on Wednesday and although GUE/NGL – as member of the Brexit Steering Group – has signed up to the motion, it has made clear of its disagreement of the proposals on future militarisation and security cooperation with the UK.
President Gabi Zimmer said even though the issue over citizens’ rights – in particular in the North of Ireland – have come a long way since the start of the negotiations, the current proposals still fall well short of what she wants:
“Much work remains to be done there because in the proposals for the draft of the Withdrawal Agreement, now there are limitations regarding the rights of UK citizens within EU member states to offer services for companies of other EU member states.”
Regarding the North of Ireland, the German MEP said:
“We must make sure the rights of citizens in the North of Ireland will be guaranteed. We are talking about rights which are defined in all existing international agreements that we’ve signed up to. For example, their democratic, social and human rights.”
She also said the moves towards more military and defence cooperation were not acceptable to Left MEPs:
For Italy’s Barbara Spinelli (Independent), the crucial issue regarding citizens’ rights and EU citizenship must remain uppermost on people’s minds during the upcoming months:
“The Withdrawal Agreement, which will represent an international legal instrument, must be completed by this autumn. For more than six million people – Irish citizens living in the North, EU citizens living in UK, and the UK nationals residing in the EU – the anxiety and the legal uncertainty in which they live cannot be further tolerated.”
“Their rights of European citizenship must be safeguarded and ring-fenced in a good and timely manner. They must never be subordinated to other negotiating chapters,” she said.
Meanwhile, Irish MEP Matt Carthy (Sinn Féin) had stinging criticisms for the British government and its lack of clarity on the Irish border:
“The British government has not presented a single realistic proposal on the Irish border. Their position, dictated by the DUP, is political lunacy that would harm Unionist workers, students, businesses and farmers as much as their Republican counterparts.”
“The ‘backstop’ – whilst not perfect – provides some much needed certainty. The British government signed up to this in December. For once, it's time for them to honour their word,” he surmised.
For Ireland’s Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan (Independent) he’s getting pretty fed up with the constant bickering and backroom sniping when people’s lives and future are at stake:
“During these negotiations we’ve got to be pragmatic, we’ve got to work together, we’ve got to protect citizens’ rights, and we need to work together positively.”
“I’d like to hear more positive stuff and that we need to reduce the negative impact as much as possible. We need this to work – we need you all to grow up! Stop fighting and support the people!” he concluded.