EU politicians form 'friendship group' to keep 'close ties' with UK

17 January 2020, 23:42

European politicians have set up a "friendship group" to maintain relations with the UK
European politicians have set up a "friendship group" to maintain relations with the UK. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

European MEPs have set up a "friendship group" to ensure the UK and the EU maintain "close ties" after Brexit.

Following a series of emotional farewells by British MEPs on Tuesday, one German politician in the European Parliament set up the UK-EU Friendship Group.

The purpose of the small club is to forge closer links with the UK as it leaves the bloc.

This week's session was the last time UK representatives participated in the EU's elected chamber before Brexit on 31 January.

More than 70 members make up the "friendship group" which equates to roughly 10 per cent of the European Parliament.

Green MEP Terry Reintke said she wanted to keep "close ties" with the UK
Green MEP Terry Reintke said she wanted to keep "close ties" with the UK. Picture: PA

Green MEP Terry Reintke explained that the club wanted to give "our British colleagues" a fitting send-off.

"We want to keep as close ties as possible for the future, especially when there are difficult times ahead and things might get very messy," she said.

"We want to keep this not only as a platform for MEPs but pro-European civil society to get engaged.

"For EU citizens in the UK, a lot are scared about what is going to happen in the next few years and we wanted to be a voice for them and bring up their concerns in the European Parliament."

She added that it was important for the group to hold their first session before UK MEPs left for good.

"We know this has been a difficult transition, watching everyone leave," she said.

"For my colleagues, it has been horrible, but it has also been hard on the staff. We want to make sure we continue that relationship in the years to come."

The cross-party group aims to promote the values of "democracy and human rights."

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