Following the meeting of European Union EPP leaders in Brussels on December 14, Joseph Daul, president of the European People’s Party (EPP), noted the progress made in Brexit negotiations.

“The joint report presented last week by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May, paves the way to enter into the second phase of the negotiations,” he said, addressing members of the EPP.

“The 27 EU member states stood united and the results are here. This could not have happened without the remarkable work of EU Brexit Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier.”

According to Daul, the document proposes concrete guarantees for the citizens on both sides of the Channel. It also shows a strong commitment to avoid a hard border in Ireland and an agreement on the financial settlement.

He also noted the three priorities the EPP has been fighting for. First is that the UK acts in good faith and respects the terms of the joint report, which needs to be translated into legally binding terms as soon as possible. Second is for the UK to present its vision for the future relationship with the EU.

The third point is about Ireland. “Ireland and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar have our full support and can count on us to make sure that the terms outlined in the joint report will be respected,” said Daul.

On defence, which was also discussed by the EPP leaders at the party’s summit on December 14, Daul stressed they are the driving force behind the Permanent Structured Cooperation on defence and security.

“European defence has now entered a new era. As Europeans are expecting us to provide a secure Europe, the EPP has made a priority for PESCO to become a reality,” said Daul.

Finally, the EPP president congratulated the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and wished a lot of success to Bulgaria, which will start its EU presidency in January.

“Under Estonia’s helm, the European Union has become more connected, with for example the construction of the high-speed 5G internet connection, the end of geoblocking and the EU’s first electronic signature,” said Daul. “Estonia’s EU presidency has been very successful with the agreement on reducing emissions from non-industrial sectors or the foundation of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office.”

The EPP is the centre-right, pro-European political party which gathers over 70 national parties from 40 countries.