Decisions on the departure of one of the Member States of the European Union should not be rushed through but should be taken in due time, if Europe is to avoid legal uncertainty and further disillusionment, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) said in a statement by its bureau today.
The leaders of the EU's assembly of local and regional authorities stated that they “respected but regretted the outcome of the UK referendum and stressed that, despite the decision to leave the EU, the United Kingdom would always remain a strong partner.
The President of the CoR, Markku Markkula, described the result as "especially unfortunate, given that it comes at a time when, in Europe and across the globe, we should be focusing our resources in tackling burning social, economic and environmental challenges". The statement was adopted on 8 July by the executive body of the European Committee of the Regions, which represents democratically elected decision-makers of regions and cities in the EU, ahead of a summit of regions and cities in Bratislava.
Members of the European Committee of the Regions reaffirmed their commitment to a "European project based on democratic values, putting citizens first and respecting all levels of governance" and reaffirmed that the Committee would contribute to a reflection on a new vision for the EU to "turn this critical situation into an opportunity to reform, rebuild trust and hope".
The Committee’s members stated that the referendum result underscored that the EU is still seen as being too distant and that the EU must respond by demonstrating the tangible results that it brings to the lives of citizens. It called on the EU urgently to strengthen its efforts to communicate its benefits locally, noting that "citizens view local and regional authorities as the most accessible level of government".
With an eye on the future, the Committee also pledged to invest in young people and to address the unacceptable levels of youth unemployment in many regions, "We are encouraged by the strong European convictions demonstrated by youth throughout Europe. It shows their determination to expand horizons by co-creating opportunities… We must [make] investments in education and new skills. Such investments are an investment in Europe’s future generations," the statement underlined.
The deputy chair of the London Assembly, Jennette Arnold (PES), told the Summit that the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, would press the UK government to ensure that London has “a voice at the table in negotiations with the EU.
She added: “Over 800,000 EU citizens live in London, contributing to our communities; they underpin the social fabric and economy. It is therefore vital that EU nationals working and living in London feel fully reassured that they are welcomed, and that they will continue to be appreciated, in London and the rest of the UK, now and in the future. The Mayor and the Assembly will do whatever we can to provide that reassurance and will press the government to do the same.