Speech: Michel Barnier (Chief Negotiator – Task Force for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 TEU) at the College of Europe in Natolin.
• Source: European Commission
Extract of the speech delivered on 1st April.
"In today’s more dangerous, less stable world, with fiercer competition from emerging and developed markets, we, Europeans, have strong reasons to be even more united, not divided. But we have of course accepted the sovereign decision of the British people. A Member State has the right to leave the Union. The Union is no prison!
The Union is not a place where countries have to stay against their will. This is the purpose of Article 50. If there is a door to enter the Union, there should also be a door to exit.
…..Each one has its national identity, its language, its culture, its traditions; Europe must respect them. That is what makes Europe so diverse. And at the same time we have common values that are the reason we are together. Today, once again and even more brutally than in the past, there are major global changes that we must face together. Faced with challenges such as climate change, migration, industrial and technological change and terrorism, faced with the United States’ unilateralist temptations, China’s assertiveness or Russia’s influence, our nations alone, isolated, just don’t have enough weight. If we want to meet these challenges, we must rediscover the ambition behind the construction of Europe and build new common assets, shared by a community of 27. To be both Europeans and patriots! Being European means coming together as well as being a patriot!"