June 24, 2016 / 7:31 PM / 3 years ago

Senior EU lawmaker urges British EU commissioner to quit

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Britain’s European commissioner for financial services, Jonathan Hill, should consider resigning after his country voted to leave the EU, the head of the European Parliament’s economic committee said on Friday.

European Commissioner for Financial Services, Jonathan Hill, speaks during a Thomson Reuters Newsmaker event, London April 17, 2015. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

Roberto Gualtieri, a center-left Italian MEP, also said British deputies might need to reconsider senior positions they held in the assembly before Britain formally withdrew from the EU.

“I have built a relationship of friendship with Hill but it is obvious that it would be problematic if Hill maintained his role until the end of Britain’s withdrawal procedure,” he told Reuters in an interview.

The leaders of the main political groups in the European Parliament approved later on Friday a draft resolution urging the Commission to reallocate Hill’s functions “with immediate effect”, a document seen by Reuters said.

The text, likely to be adopted by Parliament without changes on Tuesday in an extraordinary sitting, also urged Britain to “notify immediately” its intention to quit the EU, a move that would trigger the two-year withdrawal procedure laid down in the EU treaties.

That echoed comments in Berlin by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who told German broadcaster ARD he wanted to begin negotiating Britain’s departure now rather than in October, when Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will resign.

Gualtieri, as chair of the parliament’s economic and monetary affairs committee, plays a key role in steering through financial legislation proposed by the Commission.

He said the capital markets union project launched by Hill to revive the EU’s sluggish credit market would be affected by Brexit because of the role played by London as a financial hub.

“There is no doubt that the CMU project will be affected ...but this does not mean that it should not be pursued by (the remaining) 27 member countries,” Gualtieri said.

He said there would be no negative effect on EU banking union plans because Britain had opted out of them.

Gualtieri, who has also been a lead MEPs in negotiations with Britain over its future status, said no informal talks should be carried out with Britain.

Asked how the EU could exercise pressure to trigger the formal two-year procedure, Gualtieri said: “I believe that a firm position from EU institutions cannot be ignored by Britain.”

He said British MEPs would keep their roles in parliament until Britain concluded the withdrawal process, but it would not be appropriate for them to keep leading positions there.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; editing by John Stonestreet

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