EU referendum: European reaction to poll announcement

By Stephen Fottrell
BBC News

  • Published
A Union Jack flag next to European Union flags at the EU Commission headquarters in BrusselsImage source, Reuters

The UK will vote on whether to stay in or leave the European Union in a referendum in June but what do people from other EU countries think about Britain's big decision?

David Cameron announced the date of the in/out referendum on Saturday, after returning from Brussels with a deal he argued gave Britain a "special status" within the EU.

Here, Europeans - who contacted us via email and on Facebook - give their reaction to the referendum being called in the UK and their views on Britain's relationship with the EU.

Geert Oetken, Bonn, Germany

My feeling is that countries who do not believe in the values of the EU should leave the union.

It will be better for the remaining countries, because only then can they create a real democratic, governed and socially united Europe.

I think Mr Cameron is being populist and yet he only speaks with contempt for the EU.

Britain should leave the EU for once and for all and then experience what it's like to be a lone country in a global capitalistic market place. Good luck with that.

I only feel sad for the people of the UK who will have to suffer from these decisions.

I feel the British campaign against the EU is fuelled by hate politics more than ever.

It is not a healthy position to take. Goodbye, Britain.

Image source, Facebook/Alek Ciesla

Estelle Brentnall, Brussels, Belgium

I am a French national living in Belgium but prior to moving to Brussels I lived for more than a decade in Southampton and London.

For me, Europe is about more than just free trade. It is also about sticking together and preventing another world war. It is about sharing the same democratic values and principles.

I feel happy about the deal reached by David Cameron, which stayed within the limits of the EU treaties.

I would love to hear more from the UK about the positive changes the EU has brought to Britain, rather than only hearing about seemingly frivolous European laws or hordes of migrants apparently crossing the Channel to exploit British resources.

Now it is time for the British people to decide and their decision will have to be respected, of course. I just hope that they decide to stay in the EU.

I think that the British people underestimate their culture and in fact how much we rely on them when it comes to values and pragmatism, even if people from other member states don't want to admit it.

The potential "Brexit" is a very emotional thing to me. What I fear most is that it could unravel with many grave consequences at all levels - social, economic and diplomatic.

Image source, Facebook/Rune Jensen

Gert Been, Achlum, Friesland, The Netherlands

As a Dutchman and a real European, I would like to see the UK remain a member of the EU.

It's better for Europe and also better for Britain.

However, I don't want to have a member who receives special treatment.

This is the second time the UK has received special treatment, with the last one being under Margaret Thatcher.

It should be one rule for all. The other EU members were so weak to accept Cameron's proposals.

And yet Mr Cameron then says he doesn't love Brussels, he loves Great Britain.

It sounds so childish and unfriendly to the rest of Europe.

Dominik Rappaport, Stockerau, Austria

I think British politicians have made a number of mistakes. Lots of people will certainly agree that the EU is far from perfect and needs reform.

Also, a lot of the points your PM raised make sense, like the problem of social benefits.

However, British politicians like to talk in public about the EU in a way as if it was an enemy and the other 27 member states were not your friends.

The natural consequence was the lack of allies they needed in and before the recent negotiations.

I'm often irritated when the British write and talk about Europe as if they were not part of it.

This provokes rejection. If you tell me you don't want to have anything to do with the continent, people will say "ok, then please go away" and you can hardly count on our support for your matters, even if they make sense.

Blagovest Chopakov, Sofia, Bulgaria

Image source, Blagovest Chopakov

As a Bulgarian, I'm deeply affected by the EU referendum in the UK.

More than 50,000 Bulgarians have moved to the UK, searching for work and a better life. Many of them are young and skilled men and women, working hard and paying taxes like everybody else.

London is right to seek improvements in the EU.

It is hard to create a common EU law without a real political and economic union. That's why I'm against the idea of ever-closer union.

There might be some good ideas, such as the EU army, but overall the feeling that it is not the democratically elected national parliament taking the main responsibility for a country's future, but the European Parliament in Strasbourg, is somehow nonsense.

The Union is in dire straits right now. There's a variety of different problems: the refugee crisis, lack of economic growth, Russian expansion to the East.

And I believe we need Britain as a strong member of the EU, when we address all these issues.