Now is the time for EU and UK to work together

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.COM Ltd.

The Brexit referendum in the UK showed widespread rejection for further European integration, although pro-European feelings resurfaced after the vote. [Michaelpuche/ Shutterstock]

Following the UK’s Brexit vote, the centre of the EU should take note that there is a decent majority of British people, including a currently disenfranchised younger generation, who have embraced the European ethos, writes Charles Collins.

Charles Collins is a British-European citizen who works as an architect in the UK.

Given the opportunity, young British people would have worked hard to build on the institutions of peaceful and economic cooperation between the different cultures of Europe, with a collective desire to improve the lives of all of Europe’s citizens.

They should not be denied the opportunity to make their contribution to a peaceful and prosperous Europe for another 40 years, forced only to sit back and watch all previous efforts degenerate into a squabbling meltdown of bitterness and eventual disintegration of the EU.

The EU should now encourage all and every mechanism which would allow the British public to take a step back, pause and take a new better informed look at what outcome they really want to see.

They should also acknowledge that the small relative majority who voted to leave did mostly out of protest votes against the British/EU political system. They voted without any thought for the consequences of achieving a leave vote from the EU.

They were not necessarily voting to leave the EU. They were just using this opportunity to register a protest vote. The general feeling is that many voted this way thinking that Remain would win anyway and certainly did not vote knowing or intending the consequential meltdown that has followed.

This is not to disregard all of those who voted exit. Clearly large numbers voted exit for their own reasons, including those who have expressed concerns relating to a rapid increase in migration, resulting in disproportionate pressures on local resources.

These were arguably predictable reactions to concerns over such movements and the inability to accompany these with equally rapid improvements in infrastructure and the allocation of appropriate and timely resources needed to cope with such movements and to help reduce friction. There should be a sensible measured mix of migration and resources.

The EU should reflect on their offer of a deal to the UK prior to and voted on in the referendum. Free movement of people should be accompanied by a shared responsibility for managing matched resources needed.

This is not a time to castigate a nation for its expressed opinion. The British people should also not now go on to be punished for the rhetoric a few nasty individuals. The EU should now consider a pragmatic approach to the developing situation for all our sakes. We all have too much to lose.

‘’There but for the grace of God go I”: Ask the same question anywhere in Europe and you could easily get the same answer! We all ignore this fact at our peril.

We simply cannot allow this one result to turn the United Kingdom and Europe against each other, or for more hatred and intolerance to be spread. We are all better than that.

We should all now step back from the brink and help each other to move forward with a reinvigorated EU which simply concentrates on achieving the laudable tasks of creating a peaceful existence and economic stability for all its citizens without creating unnecessary divisions.

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