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The EU Will 'Gradually Unravel' With or Without the UK - MEPs

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EU flag - Sputnik International
Two senior members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have said that - whether or not the UK leaves the EU at the In-Out referendum on June 23 - the European Union must face major reforms, otherwise it could "gradually unravel".

Two activists with the EU flag and Union Jack painted on their faces kiss each other in front of Brandenburg Gate to protest against the British exit from the European Union, in Berlin, Germany, June 19, 2016. - Sputnik International
No Brexit: UK Is a 'Force for Good' in the EU - Legal Expert
The UK is going to the polls Thursday (June 23) in the biggest test of public opinion on the EU for more than 40 years. At issues is growing Euroskepticism — which is not confined to Britain —  and a desire to fee the UK of some of the bureaucracy of Brussels. 

Hans van Baalen, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe party president, wrote — in an opinion column on EUObserver:

"The UK is a crucial ally of the Netherlands in the EU and provides a counterweight against French-German dominance. Moreover, the Dutch and Brits are pushing in Brussels for the same agenda: eliminating unnecessary regulation, empowering national parliaments on European legislation (red card), completing the internal market and negotiating more free trade agreements to foster economic growth and jobs. "

Meanwhile, Guy Verhofstadt, the former prime minister of Belgium and leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) of the European Parliament has said:

"The UK offers an historic opportunity to rebuild Europe, [improve] democratic functioning and makes for more effective governance."

Eliminate Regulation

Van Baalen said: "The only way forward is the way of reforms. The deal brokered by UK Prime Minister [David] Cameron and the other 27 EU member states needs to be implemented, preferably with, but if necessary, without the Brits". 

At the February European summit, Cameron won a series of concessions from other member states, in an effort to assuage critics of the EU back home — most notably the large swath of Euroskeptics within his own Conservative Party.

Chief among these was the right to withhold in-work benefits for EU migrant workers in the UK for up to four years. The referendum debate has been dominated by the issue of migrant workers — not all from within the EU — and their ability to claim generous welfare benefits.

​Cameron also proposed cutting red tape, the non-discrimination of non-Eurozone members and the 'red card' agreement that allows member states to veto proposed EU legislation in future.

Verhofstadt said the UK would be "stupid" to withdraw from Europe, saying the EU should change to one that "really works" with a much smaller European Commission — which currently has 28 portfolios —  reduced to 12, a smaller government and a European border and coast guard and defense community.

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