23 March 2017
It’s NOT (just) the economy, stupid: Brexit puts human relationships at stake

It’s NOT (just) the economy, stupid: Brexit puts human relationships at stake

Plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions

The PES Group’s First Vice-President, Markus Töns, Member of the North Rhine-Westphalia regional Parliament (Germany), reacted yesterday to the intervention of Michel Barnier, European Chief Brexit Negotiator, who had joined CoR members for a discussion on the implications of the UK's decision to leave the European Union for cities and regions. The UK government is expected to trigger Article 50 on 29 March.


Töns emphasised: "Brexit is not just a trade deal. It is first of all about shared values and human relationships. The life of thousands of people – who put their trust in this common project and benefit from freedom of movement – will be heavily affected by the outcome of the negotiations. Our objective must be a fair and human future EU-UK relationship, which takes into account the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and of UK citizens living in the EU."

Referring to the creation of his own region, North-Rhine-Westphalia, after the Second World War, he stressed that "from a local point of view, the UK has strong relationships with many regions which will continue to exist. We don't need to unnecessarily close doors." 

He was joined in his call by PES member Albert Bore from Birmingham who, echoing an exchange of views with Richard Corbett, MEP, underlined: "We must make sure that, through transparency and debate, the UK citizens understand what they will be facing with Brexit. A Brexit that would cost jobs, cut off farmers from the EU market and hinder access of students to universities would be bad for Britain and Europe. When the ‘divorce deal’ comes back in 2 years' time, people must have the chance to reconsider." 

In line with this statement, the plenary session adopted PES amendments to the CoR resolution on the Implications for local and regional government of the UK's decision to leave the EU​, which state that "Article 50 does not prevent a Member State from withdrawing the notification of its intention to leave, provided that its intentions are genuine" and that "the result of the negotiations on both the withdrawal from the EU and the arrangements for the UK's future relationship with the Union should be subject to the appropriate forms of democratic endorsement before taking effect."

The resolution will be the starting point for the CoR commissions to follow-up with thematic discussions to ensure that the full impact of the Brexit on EU policy and legislation is properly evaluated with regard to local and regional government.