EU’s Chief Negotiator Barnier and CoR President Lambertz call for local and regional governments to prepare for all possible scenarios in the Brexit negotiations
The chief negotiator for the European Union has urged the regions and cities of the EU to step up their preparations for any outcome from the talks on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom. The call by Michel Barnier was echoed by the President of the European Committee of the Regions just before the UK Parliament voted in favour of a delay to the date of the UK's withdrawal from the EU.
Addressing local and regional leaders from the EU on 14 March as the UK Parliament prepared to vote on delaying the UK’s departure from the EU,
Barnier said: "The EU has done everything it can to help get the Withdrawal Agreement over the line. The impasse can only be solved in the UK. Our ‘no-deal’ preparations are more important than ever before. Nevertheless, we have learned important lessons: firstly, we need a Europe that listens to citizens and, secondly, for a successful future everyone in the EU needs to work together. We have seen that it is possible."
Karl-Heinz Lambertz , President of the
European Committee of the Regions , said: "Regions and cities across the EU should be on high alert to manage the impact on their population and their economies, despite the vote in favour of an extension by the UK Parliament. The costs will vary significantly from region to region, but the effects of a chaotic disruption to decades of social and economic relations could be colossal. We welcome Mr Barnier’s decision to come to the CoR at this most crucial of points in the Brexit process. It underscores that meeting the challenges of Brexit must be a collaborative effort between every level of government in the EU. For us it's clear: solidarity is better than solitaire, and we must make sure that the future EU is more than a market economy and responds sufficiently to citizens' social needs."
Mr Barnier and President Lambertz were speaking at the
European Summit of Regions and Cities , which brought together members of the European Committee of the Regions and a hundred other elected politicians to discuss how to renew the EU. The two-day summit – held on 14-15 March in Bucharest – resulted in a
declaration that will be sent to leaders of the EU for their consideration when they meet on 9 May in Sibiu to re-state their commitment to an EU that is more united, stronger and more democratic.
The CoR has passed two resolutions on Brexit – in
– in which it has emphasised the need to prevent the erection of a hard border on the island of Ireland, to protect the rights of citizens, and to ensure that local and regional governments are not left to deal with the effects of Brexit alone. The CoR supports a future relationship with the UK that enables close cooperation with regions, cities, businesses and universities. To prepare for the UK's withdrawal, the CoR has channelled the concerns of regions and cities to the EU's decision-makers, liaised with local-government associations in the UK, and established an in-house political platform – a Brexit inter-group – for its members. To inform decision-making, it has conducted
the concerns of members of the CoR, it has – with Eurochambres –
the expectations and preparations of local and regional authorities and chambers of commerce, and it has commissioned a
assessing the impact of Brexit on specific regions and sectors.