Open letter from Sergei Stanishev after the UK Referendum

Open letter from Sergei Stanishev after the UK Referendum

Dear friends,

The 23rd June 2016 is, and will remain, a political earthquake in the EU’s history. For the first time, after decades of widening the Union, a Member State made the choice to leave.

While deeply regretting their choice, I fully respect the democratic decision of the majority of British citizens to leave the European Union. I want to thank our British comrades, the Labour Party, for the energy they put into trying to convince voters that remaining with the EU was their best guarantee for workers’ rights and for a fairer growth.

It is important that the British Government activates article 50 and starts the withdrawal in the swiftest possible way. Otherwise they will leave the door open for all nationalists and populists in Europe.

Now is the time for everyone who believes in the European Union to act. The European Socialists and Democrats are such believers. We put our heart and soul into the European project and now is the time to make sure that it will endure. The rising wave of nationalism and populism across Europe will try to exploit every last piece of the Brexit to gain influence and to get people’s attention.

There are three possible scenarios in a turbulent time like this, three possible ways out of this situation:

  1. Letting the Conservatives take the lead will bring us right back to where we were prior to the UK referendum. Conservative solutions can only keep the status quo and prolong the austerity policies which brought the Union to this crisis in the first place.
  2. Surrendering to populism and nationalism would be the easiest thing to do. Traditional European political parties have already seen losses to the extreme left and the extreme right all over Europe.
  3. Thirdly we can embrace the fact that we, Socialists, Democrats, Labour parties and Progressives, are the only alternative. We are the ones with the potential to lead Europe. Our vision on growth, jobs, social justice and equality can provide stability, security and progress to the European Union.


In this moment of political turmoil, the Party of European Socialists is determined to swiftly bring forward the change Europe needs. Now is the time for action.

Our responsibility, as the progressive political family, is to take leadership during this historical moment for Europe and set a new agenda for the EU. We must show that our alternative policies are more relevant than ever and that we are committed to lead change in Europe, now.

We already started this process with the PES high level summit in Paris. We have our European Plan for Youth. We introduced a Programme of Progressive Reforms. We have the conclusions of the PES High Level Working Group on the EMU and the PES Presidency declaration on the subject. Now is the time to explain and show all our efforts to the European citizens. And I hope that every member party, every PES activist across Europe will take part in that process.

We have drafted a proposal for a social-democratic Roadmap for Europe. It is an agenda based on sustainable growth, fair jobs and social justice. An agenda to reconnect with European citizens. An agenda that will allow us to regain trust and bring lasting change to the lives of millions of Europeans.

The PES is ready to respond to this urgent call for action. I count on the commitment of each and every one of you to fully engage now in a process of change and of providing alternatives for Europe. More than ever, we need to stand united and bring a new dynamic to the project of hope and social progress that defines the EU.


With fraternal regards,

Sergei Stanishev


Party of European Socialists