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Article 50 negotiations with the UK

Statement by Michel Barnier at the plenary session of the European Parliament on the state of play of the Article 50 negotiations with the UK.

Thank you President,

Thanks to Frans, and to you too, for allowing me to speak at the beginning of your plenary session on the extraordinary negotiation with the United Kingdom and on the first result we reached last Friday.

This is an important step – and there will be many steps to take – but this agreement is important because, with the joint, detailed report – 96 paragraphs, 15 pages – we are first dealing with the difficult subjects of the separation that the United Kingdom wanted.

And if the European Council so wishes, taking into account your own resolution, this first step will allow us to move forward with the negotiations in a calmer manner.

We emphasise also the stability of our continent in a world which is, as we all know, uncertain. Our Union should be able to find rational solutions with the United Kingdom and should therefore, at the same time, be able to concentrate its energy on the initiatives and challenges which we face together, as Frans Timmermans has mentioned, on behalf of the European Commission.

And we also send a message of confidence to a lot of people, a lot of stakeholders, and a lot of citizens who are worried, even distressed, following the UK's decision to leave the European Union.

In this negotiation, our state of mind has never been to make mutual concessions.

This is not about making concessions on citizens' rights. This is not about making concessions on the peace process or stability on the island of Ireland. Nor is it about making concessions on the thousands of investment projects which are financed by EU policy and the EU budget.

I know that this point has always been shared by the Parliament and the Council. We owe a lot – I must admit – to the permanent cooperation we have with the Council, and the Member States for the agreement reached on Friday. We owe a lot, Members of Parliament, to your permanent and rigorous support.

And I would like to thank you, President Tajani, and to sincerely thank your coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, the members of the Brexit Steering Group, Elmar Brok, Roberto Gualtieri, Danuta Huebner, Gabriele Zimmer and Philippe Lamberts, the presidents of the political groups and also the committee chairs.

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