European Parliament Vice President Alexander Lambsdorff said Saturday that 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.”
Even though he hoped British voters decide to stay within the EU, the German Liberal lawmaker said the EU would survive if the vote signaled an exit.
“A European Union without Germany or France is completely unimaginable, but we had a European Union without Britain at the very beginning,” Reuters reported Lambsdorff as saying in a radio interview with Deutschlandfunk station. “It won’t be the end of ‘Project Europe’, as some are describing it.”
Britain is holding a referendum on June 23 to decide whether it should leave or remain in the EU.
The UK Independence Party has been advocating Brexit with claims that Britain is being held back by the EU. They believe the European Union imposes too many rules on business and charges billions of pounds a year in membership fees for little in return.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who leads the “remain” camp, earlier this year negotiated a deal with EU leaders that would grant the Britain “special” status within the 28 nation club if it chooses to stay back in the Union. The “remain” camp claims that U.K. is more secure as a part of a bigger regional system.
Many, including the Group of Seven leaders, have warned that a British vote to leave the EU would be a serious risk to global economic growth. The European Union would also have to change the voting structure to adjust to Britain’s departure.
According to Lambsdorff, EU will have to push forward reforms. He also added that it would be critical to improve the organization’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.