Sant abstains on Brexit resolution, says EP negotiator Verhofstadt has conflict

Labour MEP Alfred Sant: Brexit proposals may increase uncertainties with UK rather than minimise them

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Matthew Vella
6 April 2017, 9:33am
Alfred Sant
Alfred Sant
Labour MEP Alfred Sant, formerly the prime minister who froze Malta’s EU accession application in 1996, has abstained on the final vote of Wednesday’s resolution setting out the European Parliament’s red lines on negotiations for the exit of the United Kingdom from the Union.

Sant said the proposals on the dissolution of the UK membership from the EU “may have the effect of increasing uncertainties, instead of minimizing them.”

Instead Sant said that a more effective approach would be to negotiate on a final position for the UK-EU relationship, and then move towards it in a phased manner.

“While in broad agreement with this resolution, I have abstained in the vote on it for the following reasons: I fail to see how in negotiating for an amicable divorce, it is proposed to first decide on the dissolution of the marriage, and then discuss the terms for the post divorce situation.

“This procedure is neither realistic nor coherent with objectives that the resolution itself sets. It may have the effect of increasing uncertainties, instead of minimizing them. A more effective approach would be to negotiate on a final position for the UK-EU relationship, and then move towards it in a phased manner. I fail to understand the claim that this would weaken the hands of EU negotiators.”

Sant also said that the time allowed to MEPs for reflection and discussion was too short. “Internal discussions on the draft text were basically on a take it or leave it basis,” the MEP said.

Guy Verhofstadt
Guy Verhofstadt
He added that a parliament which prides itself on insisting for full transparency in public affairs, had in fact chosen as its representative in the Brexit negotiations a member who derives income from sources outside Parliament but on matters related to its activities – referring to liberal Dutch MEP Guy Verhofstadt. “I cannot accept this. Huge scope could arise for potential conflicts of interest,” Sant said.

Verhofstadt, the leader of the Liberal group (ALDE), rakes in at least €144,000 a year from the work he does on the boards of investment firms APG and Sofina, according to Transparency International’s EU Integrity Watch.

The resolution was approved with 516 votes in favour, 133 against, with 50 abstentions.

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Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.