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Martin Schulz © Olaf Kosinsky

Schulz gives final Presidency speech

15/12/16Defence

Martin Schulz stressed the importance of co-operation and solidarity in his last speech as president of the European Parliament at the summit in Brussels, Belgium.

Addressing heads of government at the summit, he called on them to make progress on issues such as defence, migration and Russia: “You all agreed that you need the EU, that the EU is the only means to tackle the challenges we are facing in this century. This spirit should never be forgotten and should guide your actions over the years to come.”

He also addressed Brexit, urging EU countries to work in “a spirit of loyal co-operation”, adding: “We cannot allow the Brexit process to become an emotional affair, nor should we turn it into a legal maze from which exit is extremely difficult. We must not feed populists’ unfounded claims that the EU is the master of all evil.”

He then warned EU countries that Parliament needed to be fully involved throughout the Brexit negotiation process: “If we are not adequately involved, we may not be able to give our consent. And in this situation the UK would face the hardest Brexit possible.”

Schulz called for more co-operation on defence, saying: “One of the effects of Brexit was the new impetus this has given to go further in defence co-operation. I see many among you driving this initiative and this makes me optimistic that after many years of empty rhetoric, concrete actions are finally taken. I urge you to make sure that this momentum is now maintained.”

He also said that solidarity was essential if the EU was to successfully tackle the migration crisis, adding: “Since more than one year asylum and migration have become the deepest challenge for the EU, a challenge we will only master if we help each other and stand together in solidarity.”

In his last speech, Schulz concluded: “I have called this union the biggest achievement of our civilisation of the previous century, and I am still convinced that this is true. Let us have the courage to fight for it.”