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, the European Parliament said in a resolution voted after an extraordinary plenary debate on Tuesday. MEPs also stressed the urgent need for reforms to ensure that the EU lives up to its citizens’ expectations.
After a debate between Parliament’s political group leaders, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Dutch minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, representing the EU Council’s rotating presidency, Parliament voted a resolution on ways forward after the UK referendum on 23 June. The text was approved by 395 to 200, with 71 abstentions.
Parliament called upon the UK government to respect its people’s democratic decision via a swift and coherent implementation of the withdrawal procedure, i.e. by activating Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union so as to allow withdrawal negotiations to start as soon as possible.
To prevent damaging uncertainty for everyone and to protect the Union’s integrity, the UK Prime Minister should notify the outcome of the referendum to the European Council of 28-29 June, in order to launch the withdrawal procedure and negotiations as soon as possible, urged MEPs.
MEPs recalled that the European Parliament’s consent for the withdrawal agreement and any future relationship is required under the Treaties, and that it must be fully involved at all stages of the various procedures.
Parliament also called on the Council to change the order of its presidencies to prevent the withdrawal process from jeopardizing the management of the day-to-day business of the Union. The UK was set to take on the presidency in the second half of 2017. Parliament will also change its internal organization to reflect UK citizens’ will to withdraw from the EU.
The current challenges demand reform to make the Union “better and more democratic”, and to “deliver what citizens expect”, MEPs insisedt. “While some Member States may choose to integrate more slowly or to a lesser extent, the core of the EU must be reinforced and à la carte solutions should be avoided,” said the text.