Prime minister Xavier Bettel said that he respects the Brexit decision, but that Great Britain is now on the outside looking in
Bettel on Brexit decision
Luxembourg’s prime minister has said that the decision by the British people to leave the European Union in Thursday’s referendum signalled the start of lengthy divorce proceedings between the United Kingdom and the 27 other member states. “We respect their decision, but it is they who asked for this divorce,” said Xavier Bettel.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday morning, the prime minister said “it is now up to us to define our relationship with Great Britain, not only bilaterally but also between Great Britain and the 27 members. Because this affects us all. I expect David Cameron’s successor to be our partner in these discussions.”
Bettel insisted that the European project would drive forward, though admitted that the vote would have to question itself. He said that politicians needed to restate all that is positive about Europe, because many young people especially no longer see the European Union as an ideal or a beacon of hope. “We have a tendency to blame everything on Brussels if things don’t work. We need to remember that it is not aliens sitting in Brussels, but we also sit there.”
As for the immediate future, nothing changes said the prime minister. Great Britain retains its rights and its obligations to the European Union until negotiations are complete, so next year’s budget is not in question, for example. And he warned that Britain would not be able to pick and chose the conditions of any future
Bettel said that British citizens have always been welcome in Luxembourg, and would continue to be welcome. He also said, in response to a question, that there was no point in “punishing” Great Britain to dissuade other member states from taking a similar remain or leave vote. “They have made their choice and we respect that. I hope that we can proceed amicably with the divorce. They tried to pick and choose what they wanted from the union, but now they are on the outside and that was their choice.”
But Europe shouldn’t impose any additional censure on the UK, said Bettel. “We can’t simply punish those who don’t believe in the European project--that is exactly what many reproach us with. We have to show that Europe is attractive, that it can deliver advantages.”