EU referenda – learning the lessons from sister parties across Europe


Pannelists at the debate on EU referendum in the UK

The Referendum on whether or not Britain should stay in the European Union is a massive milestone for the UK, but also for the whole of the EU. The experiences of other European socialist and social democratic parties from across Europe in campaigning on referenda are valuable in helping Labour as it begins its campaign. This was the subject of an event organised by the the Party of European Socialists (PES) at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, England. The event was chaired by Jan Royall – PES Vice President.

Sergei Stanishev, PES President said at the event ‘The UK referendum poses a challenge not just for the UK but for Europe too. Both sides could to lose heavily from a ‘Brexit’. But I would rather focus on how much both can gain from staying together – British people live, work and own businesses all across Europe. People from other European countries live, work and own businesses in the UK. The European Union makes that possible!

The story of Britain is the story of a country which has thrived from being open to the rest of the world. It has made it the economic powerhouse that it is, but is had also contributed to making it into a vibrant multicultural society. Now is not the time to close the doors.

Ruari Quinn TD, PES Vice-President, said

Our experience in Ireland with the marriage referendum has shown me that we must make the positive case for voting in the referendum. People need to understand what they stand to gain.

I understand if people want to changes things about Europe – there are many things I would like to change! But if you’re not in it then you can’t change it. If you’re not in, you can’t win.

It is vital that in the run up to the election we mobilise different groups to encourage people to vote. Our friends and our neighbours are the best spokespeople we can find.