The European People’s Party (EPP) leaders met today in Brussels ahead of the European Council. The EPP Summit welcomed, among others, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the next Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who were congratulated on their respective electoral wins. The CDA leader Sybrand Buma was also congratulated for the entry of his party to the Dutch government.
The talks focused on Catalonia, Brexit and Cyprus. After the meeting, Joseph Daul, President of the EPP, made the following statement:
“All of Spain’s regions have flourished over the past decades and so have their citizens. The people of Catalonia are not oppressed. The situation in Catalonia calls for dialogue, but an illegal referendum that defies the Spanish constitution is anything but dialogue. The rights of all Spanish citizens must be respected, equally. We are convinced that Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will find a political solution within the framework of the rule of law.”
The EPP Secretary General and MEP Antonio López-Istúriz also underlined the importance of the party’s backing: “We are proud of the EPP family’s support in these difficult times for Spain, my country. The EU is a project that unites us and will not be broken by separatists or nationalists. These are things of the past.” In his intervention at the EPP Summit, the EPP Secretary General explained that “the main Spanish political forces agree with the proceedings of article 155 by Prime Minister Rajoy. This is due to the lack of clarity by Catalonia’s President over the declaration of Catalonia’s independence.”
The current state of Brexit negotiations was also discussed. In the margins of the Summit, the EPP’s President Joseph Daul declared:
“Since the beginning of the Brexit talks, the EPP heads of state and government, as well as opposition leaders, are exactly on the same page towards the UK government. Brexit Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier can count on our full support. Our priorities are clear: citizens’ rights, the financial settlement, and the border with Ireland. Only when sufficient progress has been made on these three issues, can we talk about the future relationship between the EU and the UK. Unfortunately, this is not yet the case. But one thing is for sure: on 29 March 2019, the UK will no longer be a member of the EU. It is now up to the UK to present concrete proposals to move to the next phase of the negotiations.”
The Cyprus settlement talks also featured prominently on the agenda.
“We are disappointed with the failure to reach a comprehensive settlement at the Crans Montana Conference. This is due to Turkey’s insistence on maintaining guarantee and intervention rights in Cyprus, and the continuation of the presence of Turkish military troops in Cyprus. We call on Turkey to comply immediately with the approach of the UNSG and the EU’s principles and values, and constructively work for a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem,” said Joseph Daul.
The EPP was also informed of the recent measures imposed by Turkey against the enclaved Greek Cypriots and Maronites, and calls on Turkey to withdraw these measures immediately and refrain from actions that are clear violation of human rights.