Tajani 'optimistic' about Brexit draft deal

Tajani 'optimistic' about Brexit draft deal

European Parliament president Antonio Tajani said Thursday he was "optimistic" about a draft deal reached on Britain’s exit from the EU, welcoming the deal's citizens rights provisions and 'backstop' arrangement to avoid a hard Irish border.

“Brexit is most of all about people. It is about the rights of our citizens, preserving the peace in Northern Ireland and safeguarding jobs affected by the UK’s departure,” Tajani said in a statement.

“We believe in democracy and respect the decision of the British people. The text agreed to by the European Union and United Kingdom is the first step on a long road. Nevertheless, I am optimistic that it will pave the way towards a close future EU-UK relationship. As I have always said, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union, not Europe”, Tajani added.

Any final Brexit agreement should give Britain "inferior" rights to those of full EU members and safeguard the interests and citizens’ rights of the remaining 27 EU countries, he said.

The 751-member parliament must approve the Brexit withdrawal agreement reached on Wednesday by Britain's premier Theresa May and the EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, two and a half years after Britain voted to leave the EU in a referendum.