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MEPs lay out their priorities for upcoming #EuropeanSummit

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Migration, Brexit and defence topped MEPs’ priorities for the June European summit, in a debate with the Maltese Presidency and Commission President Juncker
.

MEPs strongly criticised the lack of progress in Council on the Dublin reform, calling the lack of solidarity among member states “disappointing” and “shameful”. Many also stressed the need to secure and control the external borders and noted the progress achieved on this. The issue of further agreements with countries outside the EU, such as Libya, divided the House. Some MEPs strongly opposed cooperation with what they described as a failed state, while others called for an EU-Libya agreement to end the loss of life in the Mediterranean.

As expected, many of the group leaders addressed the situation of Brexit as a result of last week's general election in the UK.  Some leaders said that the election had clearly indicated that 'hard' Brexit was now off the table, while others expressed their frustration at the lack of progress in negotiations and the increased uncertainty of how Brexit would pan out.  A call was also made to ensure that Brexit did not overshadow all the essential work which needs to move forward in other policy areas.

Finally, some leaders also touched upon the EU's reinvigorated push for defence cooperation.

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Opening President Tajani and Maltese Presidency 

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the Commission 

Manfred Weber (EPP, DE) 

Gianni Pittella (S&D, IT) 

Syed Kamall (ECR, UK) 

Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, BE) 

Gabriele Zimmer (GUE/NGL, DE) 

Ska Keller (Green/EFA, DE) 

Nigel Farage (EFDD, UK) 

Marcel De Graaff (ENF, NL) 

Helena Dalli, for the Council 

Speakers (original version)

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UK tells EU on Northern Ireland: Be responsible, be reasonable

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Britain's Trade Minister Liz Truss walks after the ceremony of State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions, in London, Britain, May 11, 2021. REUTERS/John Sibley

Britain's trade minister on Wednesday (16 June) called on the European Union to be responsible and reasonable in a row over the implementation of Northern Ireland Protocol of the Brexit divorce deal, write Guy Faulconbridge and Michael Holden, Reuters.

"We need the EU to be pragmatic about the checks that are undertaken and that was always the way the protocol was drafted," International Trade Secretary Liz Truss (pictured) told Sky News.

"It requires compromise between the parties, and the EU need to be reasonable," Truss said.

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Brexit deal risks undermining Northern Ireland peace, says UK's Frost

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The historic US-brokered 1998 Irish peace agreement has been put at risk by the implementation of the Brexit divorce deal in the British province of Northern Ireland, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top Brexit negotiator said on Wednesday (16 June), writes Guy Faulconbridge.

The United States has expressed grave concern that a dispute between London and Brussels over the implementation of the 2020 Brexit treaty could undermine the Good Friday accord, which effectively ended three decades of violence.

After the United Kingdom exited the bloc's orbit on 1 January, Johnson has unilaterally delayed the implementation of some provisions of the deal's Northern Ireland Protocol and his top negotiator has said the protocol is unsustainable.

"It's super important that we keep the purpose of the nature of the protocol in mind, which is to support the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and not to undermine it, as it risks doing," Brexit Minister David Frost (pictured) told lawmakers.

The 1998 peace deal largely brought an end to the "Troubles" - three decades of conflict between Irish Catholic nationalist militants and pro-British Protestant "loyalist" paramilitaries in which 3,600 people were killed.

Johnson has said he could trigger emergency measures in the Northern Ireland protocol after its implementation disrupted trade between Britain and its province.

The protocol aims to keep the province, which borders EU member Ireland, in both the United Kingdom's customs territory and the EU's single market.

The EU wants to protect its single market, but an effective border in the Irish Sea created by the protocol cuts off Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom - to the fury of Protestant unionists.

Frost said London wanted agreed solutions to enable the Protocol to operate without undermining the consent of either broad community in Northern Ireland.

"If we can't do that, and at the moment, we aren't making a lot of progress on that - if we can't do that then all options are on the table for what we do next," Frost said. "We would rather find agreed solutions."

Asked if the Britain would invoke Article 16 of the Northern Irish Protocol to force a rethink, Frost said: "We are extremely concerned about the situation.

"Support for the protocol has corroded rapidly," Frost said.

"Our frustration ... is that we're not getting a lot of traction, and we feel we have put in a lot of ideas and we haven't had very much back to help move these discussions forward, and meanwhile ... time is running out."

Ireland's foreign minister said in response that the province's trading arrangement's were not a threat to the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom, but simply a means of managing disruption from its exit from the EU.

"Don't know how many times this needs to be said before it's fully accepted as true. NI Protocol is a technical trading arrangement to manage the disruption of Brexit for the island of Ireland to the greatest extent possible," Simon Coveney said on Twitter.

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Getting nothing back, UK minister says frustration is growing with EU

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Frustration in the British government is rising because London has offered a number of proposals to solve a standoff with the European Union over Northern Ireland but has not had a lot back, Brexit minister David Frost said on Wednesday (16 June), writes Guy Faulconbridge, Reuters.

"Our position is that we would like to find negotiated agreements that ... bring it back to the sort of light-touch agreement that we thought we were agreeing," Frost told a parliamentary committee.

"Our frustration ... is that we're not getting a lot of traction, and we feel we have put in a lot of ideas and we haven't had very much back to help move these discussions forward, and meanwhile ... time is running out."

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