Europe is going through major changes. Our aim is to look at the key issues in our continent from a biblical perspective.
Juncker speaks at EU Parliament plenary session in Brussels. Verhofstadt: “Negativism is the most shocking thing of what has happened in Britain, not the choice of the people.”
In the first plenary session after the United Kingdom Referendum, the European Parliament discussed the next steps for the country to leave the European Union.
President of the European Comission Jean-Claude Juncker said: “At the end of the day we must respect the will of the British people but this has also some consequences.”
“I am sad after the vote in the UK. I really would have liked that the UK would have decided to stay with us but they decided differently.” But once the decision has been made, “the Prime Minister should clarify the situation soon.”
“Our British friend should tell us what they want now, so that we can proceed”, Juncker added.
Talking about the future of the European Union, Juncker said: “We need less bureaucracy and we are working on that. Europe is a project of peace and a project for the future. To my last breath I will fight for Europe, for a united Europe.”
“We shouldn't just look at the past, we should also look at the people of tomorrow, the youth of Europe”, he concluded
European Parliament President Martin Schulz said the “decision of the British people 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.”
MAIN PRO-EU PARTIES
The main European Parliament groups also gave their views during the plenary session.
Manfred Weber, leader of the EPP, pointed out 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.”
“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."
Weber said Great Britain should not be allowed to “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 Pitella, leader of the S&D group, called to “accept the outcome of the vote”, adding “the British authorities should notify as soon as possible their intention to leave.”
“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.”
Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the ALDE group of parties, said “it is not so much the choice that they have made that is hard, because choice is the essence of democracy. What makes it so hard for me to accept, is the way it succeeded, the absolute negative campaign.”
“It's the climate of fear that has been created, the negativism that is the most shocking thing of what has happened in Britain. Not the choice of the people.”
FARAGE AND LE PEN
UKIP leader, co-chair of the EFDD group and the most vocal leader of the ‘Brexit’ campaign at the EU Parliament, Nigel Farage, also attended the plenary.
“We want our country back [...] we want our borders back, we want to be an independent self-governing normal nation”, he said.
The far-right French Front National leader Marine Le Pen also expressed her approval of the British vote, saying that the decision to leave the European Union was “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”.
Read Christian perspectives on the 'Brexit' referendum here.