At the invitation of ALDE Party President Hans van Baalen MEP and Guy Verhofstadt MEP, leader of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament; liberal Prime Ministers and European Commissioners met at the Egmont Palace in Brussels on Thursday 9 March 2017 ahead of the European Council Summit of the same day. Please note the new earlier Pre-Summit timing (12:00 - 13:30), owing to the rescheduling of the Council Summit.
Crucial topics were discussed such as the current status of Brexit and its implications for Ireland or Juncker's White Paper on the future of Europe and the Rome Declaration.
Following the meeting, there was a press conference at the Egmont Palace with relevant statements from ALDE Party President Hans van Baalen MEP, Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel, Liberal Democrats Spokesperson on Europe and Brexit Nick Clegg MP and the Leader of Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin TD.
Speaking at the press conference, ALDE Party President Hans van Baalen MEP said: "We we were very pleased that Micheál Martin TD from Ireland could join us as he informed us about the importance of good arrangements concerning Brexit, particularly for the people of Ireland. It is crucial for us, Liberals, to find a solution that it is acceptable for Irish citizens as well as for British citizens working in the EU and EU citizens working in Britain. It is very important for us to put citizens first."
Focusing on the conclusions of the discussions with Prime Ministers on the implications of Brexit for Ireland, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin TD said: "Given the unique relation between Ireland and Britain and the current dependency of Irish companies on the trade with Britain, we believe a diversification of our trade is necessary in a post-Brexit scenario."
"Pertaining the situation in Northern Ireland, Liberal Prime Ministers and European Commissioners have a very deep understanding and commitment to the peace process and the need of finding agreements, which will be reflected in any future relations between Ireland and the United Kingdom post-Brexit." Martin added.
"Today's discussion with the Liberal leaders put focus on the importance of a core European value, solidarity, and therefore on mitigating the potential negative impact of Brexit on citizens," he concluded.
Read more of Micheál Martin TD's statements on Fianna Fáil's website.
Nick Clegg MP, the Liberal Democrats Spokesperson on Europe and Brexit, agreed with Micheál Martin TD's statement: "There was a clear consensus around the table to place citizens first and make sure they are the least affected by the consequences of Brexit."
Commenting on the challenge of trade relations between the UK and EU, Clegg said: "There will be many difficult topics to deal with in a post-Brexit scenario, but there trade relations between the UK and the EU are a particular challenging one, given the huge dependence of UK exports into the European Union. The European Single Market is a single rule book and the UK government can't expect to benefit from some aspects of the Single Market while rejecting others."
Speaking on behalf of Liberal Prime Ministers, The Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, stated: "The seven ALDE Prime Ministers decided to support Donald Tusk as candidate for the President of the European Council, as we consider vitial not to have a political crisis in the European Union. However, I have already told Jean-Claude Juncker that we will not accept anymore in the future that all the top jobs in EU institutions are divided between the Socialists and the Christian Democrats."
You can watch the livestream of the press conference on our Facebook page:
Watch somes images from the Pre-Summit here:
The Liberal Pre-Summit was attended by:
- Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg
- Miro Cerar, Prime Minister of Slovenia
- Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Belgium
- Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark
- Jüri Ratas, Prime Minister of Estonia
- Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands
- Juha Sipilä, Prime Minister of Finland
- Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Transport
- Vĕra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality
- Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition
- Nick Clegg MP, Spokesperson of the Liberal Democrats on Europe and Brexit, United Kingdom
- Micheál Martin TD, Leader of Fianna Fáil, Ireland
Click on the arrow to look through the pictures of the Pre-Summit on our Flickr album: