Today marked the first day of the XXIV Congress of the European People’s Party (EPP), which is being held today and tomorrow in Malta. Today’s plenary session featured addresses by the EPP’s non-EU heads of state and government, EU oppositions leaders and non-EU oppositions leaders.

The EPP Congress opened as British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, officially starting the process by which the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. Regarding this process, the EPP President made the following statement:

“Our priority in negotiations with the UK will be to protect the rights and freedoms of more than 4 million EU citizens living in the UK and the interests of all people from the EU 27. We also expect that the UK will comply with its financial obligations. The exit bill must be fully paid, as it is customary that one not leave the table without paying the bill. We will also focus on the Irish border, as we must do everything possible to avoid reinstating a hard border with Northern Ireland.
In the upcoming talks with the UK, the 27 Member States and the 3 EU institutions must speak with one voice. Unity will be our strength. The UK is an important partner, and we hope for an amicable atmosphere in these discussions.”

At the EPP Congress, delegates discussed how the European centre-right can secure Europe’s future. This security is not only about safety, but also about economic stability and about preparing Europe for the next generations. Sixteen political position were adopted today:

 Resolution on Security and Defence
 Resolution on the Western Balkans
 Resolution on Cyprus negotiation talks
 Resolution on the Long-Term Support Plan for Ukraine
 Resolution on Smart farming: Bringing safe food, sustainable land management and jobs to rural areas
 Resolution on Societal Challenges in Times of Digitalisation
 Resolution on Libya
 Resolution on Inclusive Growth — Everyone Must Benefit
 Resolution on Russian disinformation undermining Western democracy
 Resolution on Fighting corruption: Our duty to preserve Freedom and Democracy
 Resolution on The Future of European Trade: Traditional values in tomorrow’s economy
 Resolution on Response to Genocide: Relief and Autonomy for Victims in Northern Iraq
 Resolution on Cuba and the case of Dr Eduardo Cardet
 Resolution on Preventing illegal migration to Europe
 Resolution on Towards a Pillar of Social Rights — Income Fairness and Social Justice at Work
 Resolution on Innovative entrepreneurship

Prior to the start of the EPP Congress, we have also elected a new Vice-President. Following a vote in the EPP Political Assembly, Rafał Trzaskowski, was confirmed by Congress delegates as new EPP Vice-President.

Finally, the EPP Political Assembly voted unanimously to accept the Belarus Christian Democratic Party as an observer member in our political family. Following brutal arrests and the suppression of the opposition in Belarus, the EPP has condemned the crackdown against peaceful protests and has demanded an urgent halt to political repression. All those detained on political grounds in Belarus must be released immediately, or else the EPP will raise the option of introducing targeted sanctions against all those responsible for the mass repression witnessed lately in Belarus.

All the information regarding the first day of the EPP Congress in Malta can be found on the EPP’s social media channels, or on its dedicated website: malta2017.epp.eu.