A funeral atmosphere has flown on Wednesday the European Parliament. Tears, European flags, long faces, much sadness and early nostalgia at parting that they have organized in the morning the socialist and liberal groups to their British colleagues, who lose their jobs next Friday at midnight, when the United Kingdom finally leaves the EU.
"It's not a goodbye, it's a see you later", said the motto of the Socialists." Over time, when the promises of the campaign of the brexit do not materialize, when you see that the brexit it doesn't work, maybe there is an opportunity for us to come back ", the Labor MEP dreamed out loud Richard Corbett, just before the Hymn of Joy began to sound.
In the afternoon, more goodbyes during the debate in plenary on the Withdrawal Agreement. "I want to pay tribute to our British colleagues, at least to the great majority. They have brought ingenuity, charisma, intelligence, sometimes also stubbornness to this House. I think I can say on behalf of all the groups: we will miss you in the future"said the divorce rapporteur, former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt.
"Let's be clear from the beginning. Today's vote is not a vote for or against the brexit, but in favor of a brexit tidy in front of a brexit wild. If we could stop the brexit voting today no, I would be the first to recommend it, But that is not possible. It is sad to see a great nation leave, "Verhofstadt lamented.
"Only in the agony of farewell we look at the depths of love. We will always love you and we will never be far away. Long live Europe, "said Ursula von der Leyen, citing British writer George Eliot. The president of the Commission has opted to" join forces "and" forge a close partnership "with London after the brexit.
Farage is glad
At the same time, Von der Leyen has notified the Government of Boris johnson that the future free trade agreement will depend on not lowering social and environmental standards. "We will not expose our companies to unfair competition", he highlighted.
The discordant note has been set for the last time by the leader of the Brexit Party, Nigel Farage, which has been congratulated because in his opinion on January 31 "It is the point of no return: once we leave we will never return"There will be no financial contributions, no EU Court of Justice, no common fisheries policy, nor will they despise or intimidate us," he shouted.
Farage hopes that the goodbye of the United Kingdom is "the beginning of the end" of the European Union. "It's a bad project, it's undemocratic," he said. After their intervention, the MEPs of the Brexit Party have risen from their seats and waved British flags. When the Eurochamber presidency has caught your attention, they have risen and left the chamber without waiting for the end of the debate.
The most emotional moment of the debate was carried out by the British green MEP Molly Scott Cato. "It is not the time to campaign to return, but we must keep the dream alive. Especially for young people, who are overwhelmingly pro-European. I have in my heart the certainty that one day I will be back in this House celebrating our return to the heart of Europe, "he said, unable to contain his tears. His groupmates, many also crying, have come to hug her and cheered.
Also the boss of the Labor in the Eurocamara, Theresa Griffin, has had many problems to finish his speech. "I continue to believe that the United Kingdom would be better as a member of the European Union. For our youth and for future generations, let's keep the faith that one day we can return", he asked in a broken voice.
"I sincerely want to wish the United Kingdom the best", the EU negotiator for the brexitMichel Barnier At the end of the debate, the Withdrawal Agreement signed between the EU and the United Kingdom has been ratified by the European Parliament by 621 votes in favor, 49 against and 13 abstentions. The historic vote took place at 6:35 p.m. on Wednesday, January 29. Just after, the MEPs have sung together the Scottish anthem Auld Lang Syne: Goodbye time.
Countdown to January 31
After the approval of the Eurocamara, the last step that remains is the final approval by the Member States, which will probably happen this Thursday by written procedure. The divorce between the European Union and the United Kingdom will finally be consummated this Friday at midnight (11 pm in London).
The Withdrawal Agreement guarantees the right to stay for life to European citizens residing in the United Kingdom; imposes an exit bill of 45,000 million on London of euros; and provides for a special status for Northern Ireland in order to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. It also includes a protocol on Gibraltar whose objective is to boost cooperation between the United Kingdom and Spain.
The divorce agreement also provides for a transition of 11 months. A period that will begin on Saturday, February 1, which aims to facilitate the smooth landing of citizens and businesses and allow the negotiation of the new trade agreement between Brussels and London.
During the transition, nothing changes: The United Kingdom remains in the internal market and the customs union. The only difference is that it will no longer have representatives either in the European Chamber or in the Councils of Ministers, so it will not participate in decision making.
The transition will conclude on December 31 and Johnson has promised that there will be no further extensions. If by then no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom has been closed, the risk is again a chaotic exit with a strong economic impact in 2021.