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European Parliament must be involved in Brexit talks: lawmaker

Xinhua | Updated: 2016-12-15 01:16

BRUSSELS - The European Parliament, the co-legislative body of the European Union (EU), must be fully involved in the negotiations on Britain's secession from the bloc, a senior member of the parliament (MEP) demanded on Wednesday.

Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Group, lashed out at representatives from the Council of the EU at a plenary session, and warned that the parliament would start separate talks with the British authorities if its role was not respected by the governments of member states.

"What they are proposing is simply to say we go forward with the Brexit negotiations without the parliament," he said.

Verhofstadt was displeased with the council's arrangements for an EU summit that will kick off on Thursday.

Heads of state and government from the EU member states, except British Prime Minister Theresa May, are scheduled to discuss Brexit over an informal dinner on Thursday, but the European Parliament has not been invited.

"I have the impression that you've never read the Maastricht Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty, and the powers of the European Union and the European Parliament," Verhofstadt rounded on an official representing Slovakia, which currently holds the rotating council presidency.

In an immediate response, European Parliament President Martin Schulz promised the issue would be raised at the leaders' meeting.
Verhofstadt also took to social media to voice his anger.

"If the government leaders do not take the European Parliament's role seriously, we'll negotiate directly with the British. If that's what they want, they'll get it," he wrote on his Facebook account.

Verhofstadt, former Belgian prime minister, was appointed the European Parliament's chief Brexit negotiator in September to work with all relevant parties on a possible agreement for Britain's departure from the EU.

The agreement will eventually be put to a vote at the European Parliament, and must be approved by the lawmakers.

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