Macron Says U.K. Exit Would Mean End of Ultra-Free-Market Europe

  • Influential minister calls for swift reaction after vote
  • British campaign suspended following murder of lawmaker

French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said that a U.K. decision to leave the European Union would spell the end of an “ultra-free-market Europe,” reflecting a strain of thinking on the continent about the possibilities of moving forward without Britain.

“What does all this show? The fact that Europe is reaching the end of a period,” Macron said on RTL radio Friday. “It wouldn’t be the end of Europe,” he went on. “It would be the end of an ultra-free-market Europe that has no more political projects.”

The remarks from one of Francois Hollande’s most influential ministers underline the determination among some policy makers to keep the EU moving forward whatever U.K. voters decide in the June 23 referendum. Campaigning was suspended for a second day on Friday after the murder of Labour lawmaker Jo Cox, an advocate for “Remain” in next week’s referendum.

The British debate, including the desire of some pro-Brexit campaigners to strengthen border control, “shows that the European project can’t just be about abolishing rules,” Macron said. “It’s a project that also needs to recover its sense of solidarity, real regulation and collective preferences.”

Later, Macron also said that France also needs to move fast next week, whichever way the vote goes.

If the U.K. votes to stay, “there needs to be a quick reaction to discourage other countries from starting the same sort of process,” he said. “It’s important to clarify things the day after.”