President Toomas Hendrik Ilves hopes for stronger EU after Brexit (3)
Commenting on the decision of British voters to leave the European Union, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said on Friday he hoped that Britain's leaving would strengthen cooperation between the remaining 27 EU member states.
“UK citizens have spoken in the referendum. The decision was a disappointment for me and the European Union, but of course the remaining 27 member states will accept it,” Ilves said in a press release. “What the decision to leave means for the United Kingdom and the European Union politically and economically cannot be predicted in full yet. Personally, I hope that it will have a unifying effect on the EU27.”
The Estonian president added that it was clear that the remaining EU member states had to set out their attitudes and approach toward both the outcome of the British referendum and the future already now, as turbulence on the financial markets arising from the referendum was quickly creating a new reality. The faster the leaders of EU member states decided what next, the stronger the EU would be in the future, and the smaller the damage from the UK referendum would be for the union's citizens, he said.
The president added that one also shouldn't forget that the UK remained a part of the Western realm of values, economy, and security. “This is in the interest of us all,” Ilves said.
Ilves also pointed to the fact that the status of the UK in the EU will not change for now. The British government first has to file a notification to withdraw from the EU on the basis of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, after which negotiations that could take more than two years will be held between the UK on the one hand and the 27 member states of the EU on the other.