Ahead of the European Council discussions on the UK vote to leave the European Union, the Bulgarian government said that there should be no period of uncertainty, that could have serious political and economic repercussions.
EU leaders are attending a scheduled meeting of the European Council on June 28 and 29 – one that was postponed from its original date after the UK choice of June 23 as the date of its Brexit referendum clashed with that for the EC meeting.
Bulgaria’s Cabinet, which brought forward its weekly meeting by a day to June 28 because Prime Minister Boiko Borissov was headed to the European Council meeting, said that Bulgaria would indicate that it respects the will of British citizens, while at the same time emphasising the need for the EU to demonstrate strength, unity and pragmatism “and to take timely and appropriate decisions for follow-up”.
A period of uncertainty, that could have serious political and economic repercussions, should not be allowed, according to the official position adopted by Bulgaria’s Cabinet.
At the EU leaders’ meeting on June 28, discussions on Brexit were to begin over dinner with UK prime minister David Cameron explaining the situation in the UK after the referendum, followed by a first exchange of views, European Council President Donald Tusk said in a letter to participants.
On June 29, EU heads of state or government will meet informally to discuss the political and practical implications of Brexit.
“First of all, we will discuss the so called ‘divorce process’ as described in Art. 50 of the Treaty. And secondly, we will start a discussion on the future of the European Union with 27 member states,” Tusk said.
Brexit was the topic of a special debate in the European Parliament on June 28.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz, opening the debate, said: “The decision has been taken in the UK and it is a decision of the British people, but it is one that affects all citizens of the European Union.”
“The will of the majority of citizens of the United Kingdom must be done. It has to be respected and that is why we will be looking today intensively at the issue of Article 50 and its triggering,” Schulz said.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, addressing the European Parliament, said: “You can not leave a nation up to its nationalists. You have to respect the nations, but you do not need to respect the nationalists, they are not patriots, they are anti-Europeans. They are not patriots at all.”
“The UK did not vote on austerity policies, they did not vote on the protection of external borders. The UK is not a member of the euro zone, so the euro policies does not apply to the UK. The UK is not a part of the Schengen area so the United Kingdom is a master of its own borders,” Juncker said.
He said that he was said after the vote in favour of Brexit: “I’m sad because I’m not a robot, a bureaucrat or a technocrat. I’m a human being and I regret the results of the referendum”.
“I would like the UK to clarify its position. We can not allow ourselves a prolong time of uncertainty period. There will not be secret negotiations. No notification, no negotiation,” Juncker said.
Manfred Weber, the German leader of the EPP group, said that most young people in the UK voted to stay in the EU and find themselves on the losing side. “A whole young generation is in shock. Their hopes have been destroyed.”
Weber said it was now time to fight for the future of the European project: “The time for appeasement is over. We have to stand up and fight for our Europe … Europe needs change, no one can deny it, but we want to improve it, not destroy it.”
He said that the EU should set up the rules of play in the forthcoming negotiations with the UK and not allow “cherry-picking”. “If you want to sell goods to Europe, you have to accept the rules of the single market. There cannot be first – and second-class citizens”.
Gianni Pittella, the Italian leader of the S & D group, said: “My heart goes out to the British people who had the courage to cast a vote for Europe, especially the young British people. We are with you. We are the Europe of Erasmus, of culture, we are the Europe which has financed the best research and innovation projects in the British Isles. We are the Europe of dialogue, the Europe of Peace.
“The result of the referendum is just not the result of Cameron’s Russian roulette. Globalisation has caused winners and losers, has caused inequality and we have been too weak in defending those who have lost and support them,” Pittella said.
Voters were left with “a battle field full of ruins, a constitutional crisis with Scotland, political chaos with the rest of the country, the collapse of the pound, real damage to the real economy. And now having destroyed the country, there are those who also want to destroy the EU and paralyse the institutions. We can not become the hostage of internal party politics in the UK,” he said.
Pittella, addressing himself to British euroskeptic MEP Nigel Farage, said: “I must say one thing: you have not done the best by you country and history will sadly demonstrate that.”
Martina Anderson, a UK member of the GUE / NGL group, said: “There was a democratic vote, we voted to remain [in Northern Ireland]. I tell you, the last thing that the people of Ireland needs is an EU border with 27 member states, stuck right in the middle of it.”
Alyn Smith, a UK member of the Greens / EFA group, told the European Parliament debate: “While I am proudly Scottish, I am also proudly European. Please remember Scotland did not let you down and I beg you colleagues, do not let Scotland down now. ”
Farage, the UK co-chair of the EFDD group, said that the UK would not be the last member state to leave the European Union.
Farage said: “Is not it funny? When I came here 17 years ago and I said that I wanted to lead a campaign to get Britain to leave the European Union, you all laughed at me. Well, I have to say you are not laughing now, are you?
“And the reason you are so upset, the reason you are so angry has been perfectly clear from all the angry exchanges this morning: you, as a political project, are in denial. You are in denial that your currency is failing, you are in denial … well, just look at the Mediterranean.”
“We want our country back […] we want our borders back, we want to be an independent self-governing normal nation…what happened last Thursday was a remarkable result, it was indeed a seismic result not just for British politics, for European politics, but perhaps even for global politics too,” Farage said.
French nationalist Marine Le Pen called the UK referendum “perhaps the biggest historic event since the fall of the Berlin Wall” and “a slap in the face for the European system, based on fear, blackmail and lies”.
She said that “for decades the EU was built on the back of ordinary people” and it has “produced deindustrialisation and mass unemployment”.
“If you persevere with your drive for more Europe at a time when people vote for less Europe …, your totalitarian organisation will collapse,” Le Pen said.
After the conclusion of debate, MEPs adopted a resolution that the UK must respect the wish of a majority of its citizens, entirely, fully and as soon as possible, by officially withdrawing from the EU before any new relationship arrangements can be made.