Michel Barnier awarded European of the Year Award by Irish European Movement

Michel Barnier awarded European of the Year Award by Irish European Movement
Date: Thursday, 21 January 2021 11:10

Accepting the Award, Mr Barnier said, “It is truly an honour to receive the “European of the Year” award.” He said, “My team and I were particularly attentive to the concerns voiced by all the different parties and communities of Ireland and Northern Ireland [during EU/UK negotiations]. We travelled several times to Ireland and Northern Ireland, we went to the border, we walked on the peace bridge in Derry/Londonderry. Above all, we listened to and engaged with students, workers, business owners and rural communities. Because Brexit is first and foremost about people…The memories of the Troubles are never far away.

“I continue to believe that we have to be both patriotic and European – patriote et européen. The two go together. That is why preserving EU unity was so important throughout the Brexit process. The unity and solidarity between EU countries was visible at every step of our negotiations with the UK. Contrary to what many predicted at the time of the 2016 Brexit referendum, Brexit did not trigger the end of the European Union, but the strengthening of its unity…Together, we can build a Europe that not only protects but also inspires…A Europe that continues to make us stronger together. Ní neart go cur le chéile. There is no strength without unity.”

DUBLIN : 21/1/2021: Noelle O Connell, CEO and Maurice Pratt, Chairperson of EM Ireland hosting a virtual ceremony from Dublin to present Michel Barnier with the EM Ireland European of the Year Award. Picture Conor McCabe Photography.

European Movement Ireland Chair, Maurice Pratt paid tribute to Michel Barnier, “Over a long and difficult period, Michel Barnier sought to protect and advance European interests and values while also working to maintain a close and productive relationship with the United Kingdom. The agreement which has been reached is positive. While issues remain, it has provided clarity to businesses and citizens. Also, and importantly, this agreement can be built upon, with a view to ensuring the EU and the UK have an ongoing, constructive and mutually beneficial relationship in the future. Ireland, as a proud EU member state with the closest relationship to the UK, has a role to play as a future facilitator in that process.”

Honouring Michel Barnier for his work to secure an EU-UK trade deal, Noelle O Connell, CEO of EM Ireland said, “This award recognises individuals and organisations that have made outstanding contributions to developing the connections and relationship between Ireland and Europe. Promoting this greater engagement amongst the countries and peoples of Europe is something that Mr Barnier has pursued with distinction throughout his career. He has never wavered from his commitment to safeguarding, protecting and upholding the integrity and values of the European Union and in doing so has protected Ireland’s interests throughout the Brexit process.”