European Union External Action


Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini upon arrival at the European Council

Bruxelles, 28/06/2016 - 00:00, UNIQUE ID: 160628_01
Statements by the HR/VP

Brussels, 28 June 2016

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Good afternoon. Not an issue of foreign policy yet, but it could be. Obviously, we all wished the UK to stay in the European Union, but UK citizens clearly expressed their wish to leave the European Union. Now it is up to the UK institutions to find the way of translating this political will of their citizens into reality. They also have responsibility towards the 440 million EU citizens who are going to remain in the European Union and they have the right to know which kind of European Union they are staying in, if it is at 27 or 28. 

It is not a time for uncertainty and the UK institutions have this responsibility. One thing is very clear, either you are a Member State or you are not. There are no "half-Members" of the European Union. So - as I understand, David Cameron also said it today - we need to do things in an orderly way which means a request of opening negotiations on an exit, then we negotiate the exit and then afterwards we negotiate the kind of partnership we will have with a third country. It is 27 Member States on one side and one country on the other. 

We all wish that the future partnership can be the closest and best possible, especially in my field of competences, on foreign and security policy. I am sure that in the future we can negotiate a very close partnership, but this is not the issue of today. The issue of today is defining if the UK will or will not wish to enter negotiations to exit. 

The British people were quite clear on this, but we are receiving contradictory messages from  - to use an understatement - a rather confused political scene in London and all over the UK, so for those who say that today is a very difficult time for Europe, for sure, but I would say it is mainly a difficult time for the UK; and we have seen it also this morning in the European Parliament. So, I think that the danger is first and foremost now for the UK, for its unity and for its future, for its political stability. What we have to guarantee is that this uncertainty, this chaos, is not extended to the other EU Member States and that we manage to send clear messages also to the financial markets, and also to our international partners. 

This is also why today I will present to the Heads of State and Government, all the 28, our Global Strategy, because in these times of uncertainty in the world we have to exercise our responsibilities together, as Europeans, and we can do that only all together. There is one thing that all European citizens understand very well, which is that in the world of today every single EU Member State is a small one and if we want to play our role in the world we have to do it together, as a European Union. We have instruments for doing this, be it on foreign policy, be it on defence, be it on development cooperation, be it on trade - we are stronger together and we are together and the European Union will continue.

So we wait for clarity from London. It will be I think a serene process, no feelings of bitter reactions but an orderly one. They have to tell us what they want to do now and how they want to do it and then we will enter into negotiations. 

Let me also say please - I know this is not going to be the highlight of this European Council - that not only I will present the EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy that was result of a lengthy, wide and open process that I am very proud of, but also that we will have the Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg with us to prepare the NATO Summit in Warsaw and to highlight the strong cooperation we have established to prepare the joint declaration that we will sign at the margins of the Warsaw Summit in few days time. 

So the work does not stop. Obviously it is not as before. But again, it is a matter of having now from London the clarity that they need to express in respect of their citizens and in respect of all the other European Union citizens. Thank you.

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