'We hope that the United Kingdom will remain a part of the EU. Nevertheless, whatever its result is going to be (referendum), we must take a long, hard look on the future of the Union. We would be foolish if we ignored such a warning signal as the UK referendum,' Donald Tusk added.
Today, following his meeting in Lisbon with António Costa, PM of Portugal, Donald Tusk, European Council President, made remarks about the economic situation in the Euro zone, the upcoming European Council, the British EU referendum to be held next Thursday 23rd and his concerns about it as a first step towards a possible European Union disintegration. Watch the videos above. You may read a partial transcription below.
"Bom dia. Let me start by thanking Prime Minister Costa for his invitation as well as for his warm hospitality.
As you can imagine, we started our meeting with a talk about Euro 2016. It couldn't have been otherwise, not only because we are football fans but also because it is also an important European question today. Trust me, I know what you must have felt like in the 79th minute of the match with Austria, when Cristiano Ronaldo hit the post. With my friends I bet 1 to nil on Portugal. I felt like a Portuguese that evening.
Beyond football, we first discussed the economic situation in the Euro zone. At the time of a global crisis we have shown political determination in protecting our common currency, the Euro. The institutional changes we have carried out, not least the Banking Union, make us more resilient in the face of the crises, Portugal is a good example of this more promising situation, and we will continue to keep up this determination to strengthen the Euro zone in the future. We are aware of the risks, also those that could result from a possible 'Brexit'. In no way are we downplaying the economic costs that would accompany a potential 'Brexit'. I have no doubt, however, that we are already prepared for the day after the referendum. I mean EU Member states and institutions.
Second, we talked about the upcoming European Council. Besides the economic issues, the migration crisis will of course be the focus of our discussion among the leaders. We have reasons to be cautiously optimistic, when it comes to stemming irregular flows through the Western Balkan route. That allows us to concentrate our efforts on the Central Mediterranean route, from Africa through Libya to Europe, especially to Italy. I'd also like to use this opportunity to thank Portugal for taking an active stance during this crisis. Portugal is truly a role model of a proper and responsible approach for all European countries. We need today this kind of example, thank you very much António, it is important also for me when discussing with the other partners and leaders in Europe.
Third, we exchanged views about the UK's referendum to be held in just three days. We both hope that the United Kingdom will remain a part of the EU. Nevertheless, whatever its result is going to be, we must take a long, hard look on the future of the Union. We would be foolish if we ignored such a warning signal as the UK referendum. There are more signals of dissatisfaction with the Union coming from all of Europe, not only from the UK.
And finally, I would like to appeal to the British citizens, on behalf, I know that for a fact, of almost all Europeans and European leaders: Stay with us. We need you. Without you, not only Europe, but the whole Western and transatlantic community will become weaker. Together, we will be able to cope with increasingly difficult challenges of the future. I am absolutely sure about this. If apart, it will be more difficult. And I am also absolutely sure about that. Muito obrigado. Thank you."