Martin Schulz: Prolonged uncertainty concerning Brexit would be in no-one’s interest

The choice made by the British people in the EU referendum needs to be implemented “as soon as possible” with Parliament’s full involvement, European Parliament president Martin Schulz said on 28 June at the EU summit in Brussels following the UK referendum. “A spell of prolonged uncertainty would be in no-one’s interest,” he said, adding that the EU itself should also reform.

Schulz said he regretted the choice made by UK citizens but that their will needed to be fully respected and implemented as soon as possible. He also added that Parliament would have to give its consent to the outcome of the negotiations with the UK and thus must be fully involved at all stages.

Schulz also stressed the need for the EU to change: “The European Parliament is convinced that things cannot go on as they have in recent years… We need to relaunch the European idea, to show a capacity for self-criticism, an awareness of where we should reform the EU to deliver more effectively and make it closer to citizens.”

Heads of state and government at the Council summit

He highlighted the need for economic growth: “We must develop and democratise the Economic and Monetary Union to provide sustainable growth and jobs and to overcome persistent economic and social uncertainty.” The President also called for action on taxes: “A central aspect of our strategy not only for growth, but also to rebuild trust in the EU, is the fight against tax fraud, tax evasion and money laundering. Our single market cannot function properly if member states are competing against each other in a race to the bottom, or if SMEs end up paying higher tax rates than multinationals.” Schulz referred to the progress made in Parliament on legislative files in this area, while urging member states to do their part.

Speaking about migration, Schulz welcomed the informal agreement between governments and MEPs on the European Border and Coast Guard and said Europe should also focus on its external policy and work to improve opportunities in countries of origin “so people are not compelled to leave”. He expressed support for working together with countries of origin and transit, stressing: “They must be real partnerships – also economic, social and cultural ones.”