On behalf of CONCORD, we want to express our regret and sadness at the decision of the UK to leave the European Union. 

Nevertheless the decision was clear and should be respected. The campaign and debate in the UK played to people’s fears, not their hopes and aspirations.  For many of us in the rest of Europe it seemed divisive and inward looking.  The result seems to show generational, regional and other divisions in society. 

This outcome will be particularly tough on our friends and colleagues in the UK who fought so hard to keep their country in the EU, who argued for working together for a better Europe and through it, for a fairer world. We want to reassure them of our continued support and solidarity.  With civil society in the UK and our UK member Bond, CONCORD will continue to work to help make our continent and our world a better place.  We believe now more than ever, civil society should strengthen not weaken its links.  Across countries and sectors and beyond the EU we can work together for a new, strengthened Europe, promoting  transformative change and progressive policies in domestic and international politics.

There will now be a period of uncertainty as we see the impact of this referendum on Europe. We urge everyone not to be spectators in the days and months ahead but active participants in promoting a collective approach to the challenges that face our continent and our world. 

 As stated in the article published earlier this week, the challenges of climate change, growing inequality, ensuring sustainable and inclusive development, advancing human rights and ensuring no one is left behind are better tackled if we work together and not through a ‘renationalisation’ of politics.

There will inevitably be changes in the way the EU works and responds. We hope that our leaders rise to the challenge, are ambitious in leading us out of Europe’s social pain to a future of opportunity, rights for all and sustainable development. We hope they appeal to people’s better nature (where Refugees are Welcome) not pander to fears. How Europe deals with the crises on its borders and to large scale movements of people will be a touchstone of whether we maintain an outward, progressive policy that respects above all people’s rights, dignity and that champions fairness.

In CONCORD, we will continue to fight for progressive policies in the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals all governments agreed to less than one year ago. As European policies and processes inevitably readjust to a new situation, our confederation will remain agile and inclusive of all our members to ensure the voice of civil society is heard.

At a time like this, we will all have many questions and much to share. The CONCORD secretariat will therefore organise a webinar for a first discussion on what this result means for the EU and for CONCORD next week – details will follow.

Finally, it is said that younger voters in the UK were overwhelmingly in favour of remaining connected to Europe and to the world. We take this as a positive sign that we can hope and work for a better future. “There is more that unites us than divides us” said MP Jo Cox. We believe this applies absolutely to us in Europe and to our friends, colleagues in civil society and those we are in solidarity with around the world.


Johannes Trimmel, President of CONCORD

Seamus Jeffreson, Director of CONCORD