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MEPs Call For Swift Brexit

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

29 June 2016

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have called on the UK Government to activate Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to allow European Union (EU) withdrawal negotiations to start as soon as possible.

The recommendation was made in a resolution passed on June 28 by 395 votes to 200, with 71 abstentions. MEPs said that the UK must respect the wishes 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.

Parliament also urged the European Council to change the order of its presidencies, to prevent the withdrawal process from jeopardizing the management of day-to-day EU business. The UK was scheduled to take on the presidency in the second half of 2017.

During the debate, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, announced that he "will be asking the UK Government to clarify the situation as rapidly as is possible for them to do – not today, not tomorrow at 9am, but soon. We cannot remain in a prolonged state of uncertainty."

Juncker added that there can be "no notification, no negotiation" at this stage.

He explained: "I would 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. I have forbidden Commissioners from holding discussions with representatives from the British Government – by Presidential order, which is not my style. I have told all the Directors-General that there cannot be any prior discussions with British representatives."

Juncker was also keen to stress that the EU "will carry on." He said: "Our project goes on, and although the British vote may have slowed us down a little, we must continue our course towards the objectives we share with renewed ambition."

Also meeting in Brussels on June 28 were the leaders of the EU's member states. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, said that it had been "very much a British European Council." He said that UK Prime Minister David Cameron had explained that, in the wake of his decision to step down, his successor will make the decision as to when to trigger Article 50.

"Our discussions were calm and measured. Leaders understood that some time is now needed to allow the dust to settle in the UK. But they also expect the intentions of the UK Government to be specified as soon as possible. This was a very clear message which I believe Prime Minister Cameron will take back to London," Tusk commented.

TAGS: tax | European Commission | value added tax (VAT) | United Kingdom | European Union (EU) | Europe

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