European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker spoke yesterday (28 June) in the European Parliament about the consequences of Brexit.
He started with saying that he had decided to come to the European Parliament because “I believe that today, right now, my place is here, at the heart of democracy”.
“Our British friends have spoken, by universal suffrage. The expression of the will of the British majority has to be respected by all.”
Juncker said that he was saddened by the British vote and made no secret of it. “This isn’t sentimentality, it is my profound conviction. I would have liked the United Kingdom to stay forever by our side, with us. It has decided otherwise. We must accept the consequences.”
He said that he will be asking the UK Government to clarify the situation as rapidly as is possible. “Not today, not tomorrow at 9 a.m., but soon. We cannot remain in a prolonged state of uncertainty.”
Juncker called on “our British friends to tell us now what is going on and to tell us as soon as possible.” A new relationship with UK needs now to be established but “it is we who set the agenda, not those who want to leave the European Union.”
Juncker underlined that he does not like “the idea to gain ground that there could be secret negotiations, in darkened rooms behind drawn curtains, between representatives from the United Kingdom, national governments, Commissioners, and Directors-General.”
He added that he has forbidden Commissioners from holding discussions with representatives from the British Government. “There cannot be any prior discussions with British representatives. No notification, no negotiation.”
He continued on a positive note: “We must reassure Europeans and those who are watching us from further away. We will carry on. Not into an unknown adventure, but towards an objective pre-determined by the Treaties and by the will of many Europeans.”
He referred to the ten priorities which were adopted at the start of his mandate as president of the Commission. “Does the British vote mean that we are going to cease our efforts — generally recognized but not always appreciated — to put an end to excessive regulation in Europe?”
“No,” he replied. “We are going to continue to fight against what the British and others call ‘red tape’. We need less bureaucracy in Europe; we are in the process of bringing that about and will continue to do so.”
“As a Commission, we have said that social Europe will be restored to its rightful pre-eminent position in Europe. We have launched a wide-ranging consultation on the social rights pillar — do you really want us to abandon this project following the British vote? No. Europe must become more socially-minded, and it will.”
Juncker stated that Brexit will not slow down EU. As examples he mentioned that the Commission will go on with a more flexible interpretation of the Stability Pact and with plans for the Energy Union and EU’s digital future.
“Our aim was to modernise Europe. Things must change — yes, but we must not change the essentials. And the essentials are that Europe must continue to be project for peace, a project for the future.”
He concluded by saying that the European dream still exists. “Europe remains a project for peace.” Addressing the young people in UK, the majority of which voted to remain in the European Union, he said:
“Now is not the time for the continent to fragment again. Europe’s future belongs to its youth.”
The Brussels Times (Source: European Commission)