The European People’s Party (EPP) leaders met today in Brussels ahead of the European Council. They congratulated President-elect Ursula Von der Leyen on her election as President of the European Commission as well as Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Sebastian Kurz on their respective resounding victories in Greece and Austria.

Following the meeting, the President of the EPP, Joseph Daul, made the following statement:

“While the decision of the UK to leave the EU is regrettable, I believe that the deal reached today is fair and balanced and will facilitate an orderly exit. This outcome would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of the EU Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and his team. The ball is now in the UK court and Prime Minister Johnson has a responsibility to deliver a majority so that a no-deal Brexit can be avoided.

The leaders also discussed the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania:

“EPP has always been the party that promoted EU Enlargement Policy as a way to bring stability and peace to our continent. We regret that some member states this week blocked opening accession negotiations for North Macedonia and Albania.

We must acknowledge their efforts and opening the talks would be an incentive to continue with the necessary reforms to further implement the rule of law, strengthen the judiciary, fight against corruption, improve neighbourly relations and guarantee the independence of the media. Our credibility in the region is at stake” said EPP President Joseph Daul.

EPP leaders held a minute of silence in memory of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the journalist who was murdered in Malta two years ago, reiterating the need to bring the culprits to justice and the importance of protecting the freedom of press.