Dear members and supporters,

Brexit is a dangerous setback for Europe. Over the coming months and years, British voters will painfully find out what their “No” to EU membership will cost them politically, economically and culturally. The remaining European Union will also suffer in terms of economic growth, political cohesion and international standing.

At United Europe, we are deeply saddened by the outcome of the referendum. Although we understand that the British referendum vote was only partially about EU issues, Europe now needs to concentrate on damage limitation and reform. This is a key moment to improve the EU and respond to citizens’ expectations.

What follows from the Leave vote?

  • We have to brace ourselves for turmoil on the financial markets. After this political setback, markets will be tempted to test the remaining countries’ commitment to European integration. Especially the weaker countries of the Eurozone risk coming under pressure. We need strong public commitment from Eurozone countries and institutions to safeguard our common currency in the short term. We need institutional reforms to make the Eurozone more democratic and less vulnerable in the longer term.
  • Britain will quickly need to set out its proposals on its future status vis-à-vis the EU. After more than 40 years of common regulation and institutions, the exit negotiations are bound to be lengthy, difficult and painful. In order not to set a precedent, the EU cannot grant the UK any special privileges. As German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said: “In is in, and out is out.” But in their common interest, both sides need to do their best to act constructively and conclude the negotiations in a timely fashion. It is essential that the resulting deal respects the choice of the British public and represents the common interest of the EU 27 Member States.
  • It is not only the British who have become increasingly euro-sceptic over the past few years. All across Europe, dangerous populist movements have sprung up because people feel that Brussels – not just EU institutions, but the entire universe of organisations and lobbies connected to European decision-making – has become very distant from their concerns. To bridge this gap, the EU needs to increase transparency, accountability and democratic control. National governments must take responsibility for, and explain, the European-level decisions that they have helped to shape.
  • Most importantly, the European Union needs to prove that it can deliver on its promise of prosperity. More than ever, the EU and its member states will have to concentrate on fostering growth and employment, particularly for the young and particularly for Southern Europe. Reforms are urgently needed to help our continent’s competitiveness.

If the present situation is not handled with great care and the strongest possible political commitment, there is a very real risk of further disintegration in Europe. This is not a time for grandstanding or bean counting. Now more than ever, careful, well-considered and yet courageous leadership is needed in order to overcome this crisis and win back the hearts and minds of Europeans, including the British. This is what United Europe will work towards.

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

The Board of United Europe