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Italian MEP Vincenzo Sofo joins the ECR Group

EU Reporter Correspondent

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The European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament has decided to take on Italian MEP Vincenzo Sofo as a new member.

Mr Sofo was elected to the European Parliament in 2019. He was one of the three Italian candidates suspended pending the exit of the British Members. On February 1st 2020, Mr Sofo officially took his European Parliament seat. The ECR Group now holds 63 seats in the European Parliament.

After the meeting, ECR Co-Chairman Raffaele Fitto said: “I’d like to welcome Mr Sofo to our Group. He is a trained and competent colleague who has made a political choice consistent with his political path. We are sure that Mr Sofo MEP will be able to make a decisive contribution to the work of our Group, and to our alternative vision of the future of Europe, that is, a community of homelands and nations that cooperate in respect of our different identities and peculiarities.”

ECR Co-Chairman Ryszard Legutko said: “The decision of Mr Sofo shows that our political project, together with the strength of our ideas and our values, is credible and attractive, and from today even stronger and more able to give concrete answers to our citizens in terms of well-being, wealth and security.”

Following the decision, Sofo said: “The European Union is going through one of the most difficult periods in its history, not only from an economic point of view but also from a social and cultural point of view. Surely, it must be profoundly changed to be preserved. Considering the political forces grouped in the European Conservatives and Reformists, they are the ones most able to carry out this task.

“The Conference on the Future of Europe will be a crucial appointment for our Continent and the work that conservative forces will be able to do to correct the mistakes of the European project will be fundamental to straightening its path by strengthening our Nation states and values that have forged its spirit.”

China

ECR Group displays its support for #HongKong with an exchange of views with pro-democracy activists

EU Reporter Correspondent

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Ahead of this week's debate and votes on the European Parliament's Resolution on the People's Republic of China’s national security law for Hong Kong, the ECR has invited Wong Yik Mo, member of the pro-democracy political party Demosisto and Benedict Rogers, co-founder and Chair of Hong Kong Watch and human rights activist, to remotely take part in the Group Meeting today (17 June) and to exchange views with MEPs.

Both initiators of the exchange of views, Swedish MEP Charlie Weimers, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Polish MEP Anna Fotyga, ECR Foreign Affairs Coordinator, expressed the Group’s serious concerns about the unilateral introduction of national security legislation as representing a grave assault on Hong Kong’s autonomy, rule of law, and fundamental freedoms.

Ahead of the meeting, MEP Charlie Weimers said: "The meeting will serve as a useful interaction and moment of engagement to shed light on the troubling developments from Hong Kong, and China’s continued and deliberate attempts to renege on its agreement of 'one country, two systems'.

“China has reneged on its agreement of 'one country, two systems’. The EU must stand for the right of the Hong Kong people to self-determination and self-governance, and as long as the pressure exerted on Hong Kong’s institutions remain EU-China relations will suffer. Europe must never kow-tow to the Chinese Communist Party.”

MEP Anna Fotyga added: "Hong Kong's success was built on its freedoms. The ECR is deeply concerned by Beijing’s plan to impose national security legislation on Hong Kong, which is in direct conflict with Article 23 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law and China’s international obligations under the Joint Declaration, a treaty agreed by the UK and China and registered with the United Nations. That's why we stood firmly behind the people of Hong Kong.

“I welcome the joint text of the Parliament’s Resolution we were able to successfully negotiate on Friday. Its adoption will send a clear message as to what the EU should stand for – international law and the people of Hong Kong.”

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Brexit

#Brexit - British Supreme Court ruling is a 'game changer'

EU Reporter Correspondent

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Following the ruling of the Supreme Court that Boris Johnson acted unlawfully in suspending parliament in order to frustrate parliamentary scrutiny of his reckless Brexit strategy, Martin Schirdewan, co-president of GUE/NGL and member of the European Parliament Brexit Steering Group, said: “This is a game-changer. It is hard to see how Boris Johnson can remain as prime minister following this ruling. We will watch with interest what steps the democratic institutions in Britain will take in order to avoid further unlawful actions by the prime minister.”

Martina Anderson, GUE/NGL co-ordinator on Brexit, added: “Looking at this ruling, how can anybody argue that Ireland's best interests are served by continuing to be ruled by a country with a prime minister who acts illegally in order to wilfully damage the peace process in Ireland?”

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Brexit

Anti-#Brexit MEPs defect from Conservatives' EU group

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Two prominent British Conservative members of the European Parliament quit the Tories’ Brussels group last week to join the main, pro-EU centre-right bloc as Brexit continues to divide Britain’s ruling party, writes Samantha Koester.

“The activities and approach of the EPP (European People’s Party) will more effectively further the prospects of achieving the best possible future for our constituents,” Julie Girling and Richard Ashworth said in a statement announcing they had left the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group.

Cameron complained that the EPP under leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then French president Nicolas Sarkozy had failed to heed British calls for reform of the EU. Some Cameron critics argued that his quitting the EPP left him out of touch with EU peers as prime minister and may have played a role in his calling, and losing, the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Girling and Ashworth said they planned to remain members of the British Conservative party although they had already been suspended from the whip in the EU legislature in October for voting for a European Parliament resolution opposing a request by Prime Minister Theresa May to open trade talks.

An ECR spokesman said: “We regret their decision but are not surprised. They failed to accept the result of the British referendum on EU membership and as a result distanced themselves from their delegation, which eventually saw the whip suspended.”

The EPP, the largest party in the chamber, welcomed the defectors, noting that it now included lawmakers from all 28 EU states. Come March next year, when Britain leaves the Union, its 73 members of the European Parliament will lose their jobs.

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