Dear members and supporters of United Europe,
There is a very real possibility that Britain will vote to leave the European Union at the referendum set for June 23. Yet even among committed Europeans, the threat of Brexit seems to evoke little feeling. There is a deeply worrying sense of indifference, inevitability and perhaps even complacency about the In-Out-referendum. On both sides of the Channel, we seem to be sleepwalking into hazardous uncertainty.
Let us be clear on this: Brexit would cause serious damage. Britain’s access to its most important markets, its trade relations, the pre-eminence of its financial institutions and its ability to attract foreign investment would be damaged. At stake is also the freedom of its people to live and work anywhere in the European Union. Isolated, Britain would lose much of its influence in international relations. Instability in Northern Ireland and a renewal of the Scottish move for independence may follow.
At the same time, Brexit would have a negative impact on the rest of Europe. The European Union would not cease to exist because of a British exit, and further development of the EU and of the Eurozone can and will happen whatever the British people decide. But the EU would lose one of its largest and most prosperous member states, one of its strongest contributors to international security and – even more importantly – a rich culture and proud tradition of human rights and democracy. An EU without Britain would be less liberal, open and competitive. The centrifugal forces already at work within the European Union would hugely gain in strength.
As United Europe, we are committed to keeping the European Union together. Our goal is a Europe that can safeguard peace, liberty and prosperity for the next generation. This means not only convincing the British that their future lies with us. It also means reforming our European project: we need more competitiveness, more democratic accountability, less bureaucracy and more respect for diversity, our values and the rule of law.
There is huge amount of work to be done. We need solutions for the refugee crisis in keeping with our values; we have to address the conflicts that threaten us from beyond our borders. We need to complete the Single Market and reform the Eurozone to make it less vulnerable, more effective and more democratic.
We have a positive vision of Europe. We believe that both optimism and solidarity are possible, and that our future will be much brighter if we stay together. This is why we are calling on you, our members and supporters, to help keep Europe on the right track and Britain in Europe. In the referendum on June 23, every vote will count. So please, whenever possible, speak to your friends and colleagues in Britain and ask them to vote “Remain”.
With our best wishes,
Dr. Wolfgang Schüssel, President
Sylvie Goulard MEP, Vice-President
Anthony Ruys, Vice-President
Dr. Jürgen Grossmann, Treasurer
Baroness Jay of Paddington, Member of the Board
Friedrich Merz, Member of the Board
Dr. Walter Schlebusch, Member of the Board
Dr. Daniela Schwarzer, Member of the Board