EU Parliament adopts Brexit ‘red lines’

Members of the European Parliament take part in a voting session on a resolution about Brexit priorities and the upcomming talks on the UK's withdrawal from the EU at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday. (Reuters)
Updated 06 April 2017
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EU Parliament adopts Brexit ‘red lines’

STRASBOURG, France: The European Parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly adopted its “red lines” for tough Brexit negotiations, insisting Britain first agree divorce terms before striking a new trade deal.

The Parliament, which will have the final say on any Brexit deal, became the first EU body to take a formal stand on the talks, just a week after British Prime Minister Theresa May formally triggered the process for leaving the bloc.
The vote was 516 for, 133 against and 50 abstentions.
“You will set the tone for Britain,” the bloc’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told MEPs in Strasbourg, France, just before the vote.
He said the message on phased negotiations should be that “the sooner we agree the principles of an orderly withdrawal, the sooner we can prepare our future relations in trade.”
The EU has rejected May’s call in her letter for talks on the terms of the divorce and on a future trade deal to be held in parallel.
The resolution won the backing of all the major groups in the Parliament, from the conservative European People’s Party (EPP), the biggest bloc, to the Socialists and Democrats alliance, as well as the ALDE liberals, the Greens and the leftist parliamentary group GUE.
“It’s key to have a united European Parliament together with the EU negotiator and the European Council,” Guy Verhofstadt, the Liberal leader and Parliament’s Brexit negotiator, told MEPs.
The EPP’s German leader Manfred Weber told the assembly “we want a fair and constructive atmosphere,” but warned Britain cannot get a better deal leaving than staying inside the bloc.
He also said the EU will insist Britain pay for its outstanding financial commitments until it leaves the bloc and will seek assurances over the border between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK.
“Irish interests are not just Irish interests, they are also European interests,” Weber said.
The guidelines, which Weber calls “red lines,” reinforce the draft guidelines unveiled last Friday by EU President Donald Tusk, who represents the member states.
But the 27 countries will not formally approve the Tusk guidelines until a summit on April 29.
The resolution called for protecting the rights of the three million European citizens living in Britain, and the one million Britons residing in EU countries.
“People cannot end up being simply a negotiating chip,” said European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.
Immigration helped fuel the Brexit campaign which culminated in the shock vote by Britons last June to leave the bloc.
Tusk’s guidelines call for “sufficient progress” on divorce terms before a new trade deal is struck, as well as protections of the rights of EU citizens and the border in Northern Ireland.
The Brexit talks have already got off to a difficult start after London was alarmed by a clause in the guidelines saying Spain had to be consulted on any post-Brexit trade deal that affects the British outcrop of Gibraltar.
Brexit champion Nigel Farage blasted the EU over its demands to negotiate divorce terms before striking a post-Brexit trade deal, as well as its stance on Gibraltar and its multi-billion dollar exit bill.
Farage compared the EU to the “mafia” that is holding Britain hostage for a ransom, sparking jeers from many MEPs and a rebuke from the Parliament’s Italian chief Antonio Tajani, who called his remarks “unacceptable.”
Farage fired back: “Mr President, I do understand national sensitivities. I will change it to gangsters and that is how we are being treated. We are being given a ransom note.”
Verhofstadt said he regretted the British vote to leave the EU, but suggested a future young generation might return to the European fold.
The Parliament is likely to hold a vote on any final Brexit deal at the end of 2018 or in early 2019.
The EP omitted to mention the topic of Gibraltar in its red lines for Brexit negotiations, after heated debate on the British outcrop bordering Spain.
A resolution overwhelmingly approved by MEPs did not take up a clause in draft EU leaders’ guidelines requiring Spain to be consulted on any post-Brexit trade deal that affects Gibraltar.
“Numerous MEPs referred during the debate to the question of Gibraltar, but there is no mention of this territory in the resolution adopted by the plenary session,” a EP press release said.
The MEPs also failed to adopt an amendment to the resolution, which would have said Gibraltar had voted to remain in the European Union.
During debate in the assembly, Brexit champion Nigel Farage echoed British alarm over the clause in the draft guidelines revealed last week by EU President Donald Tusk, who represents the remaining 27 member states.
Britain responded angrily, with one former leader of May’s Conservative party even invoking the memory of the Falklands War against Argentina.
Farage, the former leader of the UK Independence Party, accused the EU 27 of “hypocrisy” by claiming to negotiate with London as one and yet allowing Spain to have a “veto” over a future trade deal if it is unhappy over Gibraltar’s fate.


Media urged to deny Christchurch shooting accused the publicity he seeks

Updated 21 March 2019
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Media urged to deny Christchurch shooting accused the publicity he seeks

  • “We’re just going to be very careful we don’t become a platform for any kind of extremist agenda,” say Radio New Zealand chief
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier urged the public not to speak the gunman's name to deny the infamy he wants

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: The media has been urged to stop naming the man charged with the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch last week that left 50 people dead.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday that she would never speak his name. In a speech to parliament, she urged the public to follow suit and deny the gunman the infamy he wants.
“I implore you, speak the names of those who were lost, rather than the name of the man who took them,” she added. “He may have sought notoriety but we in New Zealand will give him nothing, not even his name.”
Arden said the media can “play a strong role” in limiting coverage of extreme views such as his.
“Of course, people will want to know what is happening with the trial,” she said. “But I would hope there are ways that it could be covered without adding to the notoriety that this individual seeks.
“But the one thing I can assure you – you won’t hear me speak his name.”
The man accused of the mass shootings has so far been charged with one count of murder, but New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush has said further charges will be brought against him. The man said in a manifesto posted online shortly before the attacks that he intended to survive so that he could continue to spread his ideals, and that he intends to plead not guilty. He has said he plans to represent himself in court, although a judge can order a lawyer to assist him.
There have been calls for the media to refuse to report anything he says during the trial. Paul Thompson, the chief executive of Radio New Zealand, said his station will exercise caution and asked editors at all media outlets to take part in a discussion about covering the case.
“We’re just going to be very careful we don’t become a platform for any kind of extremist agenda,” he said, explaining that the station does not want to inflame the situation or become a party to the accused killer’s agenda.
Thompson described the case as “uncharted territory” but said he remains confident that his reporters will do their jobs professionally.
Dr Philip Cass, a senior lecturer in journalism at Auckland’s Unitec Institute of Technology, said the media will have to make “a very fine judgment” about what is reported if the accused killer uses the court as “a forum for the expression of his opinion.” He was wary, however, of calls to completely avoid reporting what is said in court.
“If you do that then we are moving into an area of censorship,” he said, adding that it is the media’s responsibility to provide a record of what is said and done.
Dr Catherine Strong, a journalism lecturer at Massey University, said she is confident that the media in New Zealand media will act responsibly. There is no legal or ethical imperative for journalists to report everything the accused says in court, she pointed out. The country’s media has already shown maturity by not using the name of the accused in headlines and by focusing on covering the shootings from the perspective of the victims, Strong added.

Hal Crawford, the chief news officer at MediaWorks, which owns TV3 and RadioLive in New Zealand, said, "Newshub is open to an industry-wide set of guidelines for reporting on Tarrant's trial, and we are in discussions with other newsrooms. Our aims are to minimise publicity of damaging ideology while reporting the workings of justice objectively." 

The man, who has not yet entered a plea, is due to appear in court again on April 5.