The European Parliament’s Brexit negotiator told industry bosses at World Travel Market London – the leading global event for the travel industry – that the UK’s departure from the European Union should kick-start deeper integration between the remaining 27 EU nations.
Guy Verhofstadt MEP – dubbed the ‘Brexit botherer’ by some British media – outlined his vision for a ‘United States of Europe’ at the WTM London Leaders’ Lunch.
He also told delegates that he is looking at the possibility of UK citizens being able to apply for EU citizenship after Brexit, to enable them to retain the rights they currently enjoy.
“We want to keep the free movement of people. The single market means free movement of people, goods, services and capital but you cannot just pick one or the other – it must be all of them,” the former Belgian PM said at WTM London.
He said the European Parliament agreed with British Prime Minister Theresa May that there should be a transition period so there is no disruption to the economy.
Talking about low rates of labour mobility across Europe, he said there were almost three million job vacancies across the continent – so economic growth rates were lower than the US, where there was much higher mobility.
“There is no need to destroy the EU – it needs to be reformed,” he said.
“There must be more trading and more integration, and we need to fix the decision-making process.
“We need to make this divorce work and create certainty for all industries.”
The WTM Leaders’ Lunch is a prestigious invitation-only networking event with 200 pre-eminent heads of commercial travel organisations.
The Belgian MEP was Prime Minister of Belgium from 1999 until 2008, and is now leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) in the European Parliament.
He is charged with leading the European MEPs’ negotiating team, and any deal on the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the rest of the EU will have to be ratified by the European Parliament.
About World Travel Market
World Travel Market (WTM) portfolio comprises five leading B2B events across four continents generating more than $7bn of industry deals. The five events are;
WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. Around 51,500 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL – London every November generating around £2.8 billion of travel industry contracts. http://london.wtm.com/. Next event: 6-8 Nov 2017 – London.
International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) now in its 20th edition, is the meeting place for the global B2B golf travel community. More than 600 golf tourism suppliers join 350 pre-qualified buyers and 100 international press for four days of unmissable pre-scheduled appointments, exclusive networking opportunities and invaluable industry and trend updates. Taking place in a different destination every year, IGTM brings together 1,400 golf tourism professionals from over 65 countries. http://igtm.wtm.com/. Next event: 11-14 Dec 2017 – Cannes.
World Travel Market Latin America now in its fifth edition attracts about 9,000 unique senior executives. The event generates US$ 370 million of new business. Taking place in Sao Paulo Brazil, this show attracts a global audience to meet and shape the direction of the travel industry. More than 7,000 unique visitors attend the event to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry news. http://latinamerica.wtm.com/. Next event: 3-5 April 2018 – Sao Paulo.
World Travel Market Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. Nearly 5,000 travel industry professionals attend Africa’s leading inbound and outbound travel and tourism market. WTM Africa delivers a proven mix of hosted buyers, media, pre-scheduled appointments, on-site networking, evening functions and invited travel trade visitors. http://africa.wtm.com/. Next event: 18-20 April 2018 – Cape Town.
About Arabian Travel Market (ATM) is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2017 attracted almost 40,000 industry professionals, agreeing deals worth US$2.5bn over the four days. The 24th edition of ATM showcased over 2,500 exhibiting companies across 12 halls at Dubai World Trade Centre, making it the largest ATM in its 24-year history. www.arabiantravelmarketwtm.com Next event 22-25 April 2018 – Dubai.
About Reed Exhibitions
Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading events business, enhancing the power of face to face through data and digital tools at over 500 events a year, in more than 30 countries, attracting more than 7m participants.
About Reed Travel Exhibitions
Reed Travel Exhibitions is the world’s leading travel and tourism event’s organiser with a growing portfolio of more than 22 international travel and tourism trade events in Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Our events are market leaders in their sectors, whether it is global and regional leisure travel trade events, or specialist events for meetings, incentives, conference, events (MICE) industry, business travel, luxury travel, travel technology as well as golf, spa and ski travel. We have over 35 years’ experience in organising world-leading travel exhibitions.