I regret that Britain has chosen to leave the EU. Europe will be significantly poorer, weaker and less competitive without it and Sweden has lost a close partner in the Union. Nevertheless, we must not allow the Brexit negotiations to hamper further progress in the EU. We need more Europe, not less, to be competitive in a globalised world. Not even the largest and most powerful European countries, including Britain, can meet the many challenges we face in a globalized world on their own.
Liberalism has always been an ideology characterized by optimism and internationalism. Now more than ever these features need to path the way forward, both in Sweden and in all EU member states. I hope all governments in the Union learnt their lesson from the Brexit vote outcome about the importance of taking responsibility for our joint project. We who believe in European cooperation must continue to develop the cooperation, while taking responsibility for the decisions made. Following the Brexit vote, we must clarify that it is the elected governments in the Member States that take decisions, together with the elected Members of the European Parliament, and not the faceless bureaucrats in Brussels.
As Chair of the Committee on Petitions – the only Committee within the European Parliament which directly handles the concerns of EU citizen – I am personally involved in the Brexit negotiations, through the large number of petitions received by the European Parliament from individuals personally affected by Britain leaving the Union. These citizens worry about the legal status for themselves and their families after Britain leaves the EU.
I therefore follow the negotiations carefully to ensure that the rights of EU citizens legally resident in the UK today should not be affected by a future Brexit.
These individuals must be able to rely on their rights and not be dependent of life choices. I therefore demand the EU Commission evaluates the final agreement from a gender perspective before the UK leaves the Union. In order to ensure that the agreement does not penalise women, whom in practice often are those who make unpaid, but socially important tasks, such as taking care of children, old and sick relatives, and thus risk having a harder time meeting the requirements needed to be allowed to stay in Britain after Brexit.
Both in my capacity as Chair of the Conference of Committee Chairs, in which I coordinate the work of all the committees in the European Parliament during the Brexit negotiations, and as the Chair of the Committee on Petitions, I work for an ambitious agreement that guarantees citizens the highest possible rights – in order to continue to protect European integration, even after Britain leaves the EU. How citizens’ rights are protected in the final withdrawal agreement will be crucial for if I give my consent to the final Brexit agreement or not.