A British exit from the European Union would not end the idea of a unified Europe and should not be seen as a “horror scenario”, European Parliament Vice-President Alexander Lambsdorff said in a German radio interview.
Lambsdorff, a member of Germany’s ALDE-affiliated Free Democratic Party, told Deutschlandfunk that he hoped British voters would decide to stay in the EU in a referendum on 23 June. But he said the EU would survive, whatever the outcome.
“A European Union without Germany or France is completely unimaginable, but we had a European Union without Britain at the very beginning,” he said in an interview. “It won’t be the end of ‘Project Europe’, as some are describing it.”
Group of Seven leaders and many others have warned that a British vote to leave the EU would be a serious risk to global economic growth.
Lambsdorff said the EU would have to reform, no matter what happened. In a deal struck with fellow leaders in February, Prime Minister David Cameron won the right for Britain to opt out of the group’s principle of “ever closer union” and for national parliaments, working in concert, to block some EU legislative proposals.
If the UK left, EU rules would have to change to adjust the voting structure. In either event, Lambsdorff said, it would be critical to improve the organisation’s ability to act as one body, and might also make sense to have a two-tier European system with different members moving at different paces.
One key project that Lambsdorff and others want to push after the Brexit vote is plans for a eurozone budget. French and German politicians in the European Parliament are attempting to drum up broad support for their report on a budgetary capacity for the eurozone, which is currently under discussion in the European Parliament.
The idea of establishing an independent budgetary mechanism for the single currency has long been gathering dust in the European Commission and Parliament.
But a consensus is now shaping up, which could finally unblock the political debate after the Brexit vote, according to supporters of further European integration.