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MEPs voted for Brexit negotiation plan

MEPs voted for Brexit negotiation planThe European Parliament has backed a motion setting out its position for the Brexit negotiations by 516 to 133, The BBC said on Wednesday.

Although MEPs will not participate directly in the exit talks they will have to vote in favour of the final deal for it to go ahead. The motion for debate was supported by the two largest groups of MEPs.

It set out general principles at the start of the two-year negotiations for the UK to leave the European Union under the Article 50 process.

The draft motion backs a number of positions taken by EU leaders, including the need for a "phased approach" to negotiations.

This would require progress on the terms of Britain's withdrawal, including settling financial commitments, before talks on a future trading relationship can start. It also backs the call for transparency in the talks, and for the UK to be considered liable for financial commitments that apply after it leaves the EU. It also says transitional arrangements should be time-limited to three years and be enforced by the EU's Court of Justice.

According to the draft motion, UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in Britain should receive "reciprocal" treatment. It also stated the final deal should not include a "trade-off" between trade and security cooperation. The UK should also pay towards costs for the EU that "arise directly from its withdrawal".

Manfred Weber, chairman of the largest group of MEPs, the centre-right European People's Party, said that "cherry-picking will not happen. A state outside the European Union will not have better conditions than a state inside the European Union."

Gianni Pitella, chairman of the European Socialists and Democrats also argued that the UK "can not benefit from the same conditions as members do" and argued: "If you leave the house, you still have to pay the bills."

The motion is not being binding on European Commission officials but President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker told MEPs: "The role of this parliament is more important than ever. You must scrutinise and validate the final agreement."

"We will of course negotiate in friendship and openness and not in a hostile mood, with a country that has brought so much to our union and will remain close to hearts long after they have left, but this is not the time for reason over emotion," he added.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, warned that "a disunited union could actually lead to there being no deal".

"The 'no deal' scenario is not the scenario we are looking for. We are looking for success, not against the United Kingdom but with the United Kingdom," he added.

But UKIP MEP Nigel Farage accused MEPs of trying to impose conditions that were "impossible for Britain to comply with" and likened them to the "mafia". He blamed the EU for seeking to impose a bill of £52bn on the UK and likened this to "a form of ransom demand".
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