Reports from the last session of the European Parliament before the UK’s referendum on European Union (EU) membership suggest that Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) do not know how to react to the unprecedented situation.
The June plenary session of the European Parliament addressed issues as diverse as endocrine disruptors, the ongoing migrant crisis and a new set of EU proposals to tackle tax evasion. However, according to EurActiv, the subject of UK membership was conspicuous by its absence.
Most of the European Parliament’s senior MEPs took care not to rile British sentiment in the final weeks of the campaign, or, as one socialist MEP put it, “adopted a kind of ostrich technique.” Saying what he thought would happen at the first session after the referendum, Gianni Pitella, the leader of the Socialists and Democrats group, commented:
“What will we do? I hope we will all have a big party at the July session to celebrate the ‘Brexin’.”
However, the French Green MEP Yannick Jadot could not hold his tongue, saying:
“If the United Kingdom chooses to leave the European Union on 23 June, I want to see them pay the full price.
“It has to cost them dearly, otherwise other countries like Slovakia will start to think they would be better off adopting the United Kingdom’s individualist strategy rather than playing as a team.
“All of Europe’s extreme right and populist politicians will be able to play the David Cameron card and negotiate a special status.”
It is understood that Martin Schultz MEP — the President of the European Parliament — met with the heads of the three main parliamentary groups earlier this week to thrash out a response to all possible referendum results. Together with Mr. Pitella, he spoke with the European People’s Party leader Manfred Weber, and Guy Verhofstadt of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
The only known outcome of that meeting is that if the UK votes for Brexit the European Parliament will hold an extraordinary session at some point between 24 June and the subsequent European Council on 28 June.