The referendum leaves crucial issues unresolved, writes Sylvie Goulard

The British people have made a sovereign and democratic decision to leave the EU. It is essential that this decision is respected, particularly given the high turnout (higher than that for the 2015 general election) and close but clear result: a majority of British citizens no longer wish to be part of the bloc.

It is a great pity that the voice of the young, who voted decisively in favour of remaining, is not reflected in the final result — it is they who will have to live with the long-term consequences of this verdict.

This decision has evident consequences. The first is that the settlement David Cameron agreed with other member states in February (giving the UK a special status within the EU) ceases to exist. The second is that market volatility needs to be contained. This volatility (and the medium-term uncertainties that will follow) have been reinforced by Mr Cameron’s announcement that he intends to step down as prime minister, with a new premier in place by October.

His decision that it is for his successor to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty — which details how a member state can leave the EU — means that once again he is seeking to hold the EU hostage in order to resolve domestic issues; this after blackmailing the other EU leaders in February with the threat of leaving unless the UK was granted special exemptions.

This is a grave day, for it is the first time a member state of the EU has taken the sovereign decision to leave the bloc. However, the UK is just one member among 28. The European project was started in 1950 without the British and it could and should continue without them. In particular, the euro area should carry on, backed by the European Central Bank that works to ensure the stability of the euro.

The process of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU must be carried out within the framework and the timeframe laid out in the treaties accepted by the UK and ratified by the British parliament. The legitimate interests of other EU citizens, as well as those of the bloc as a whole, must be duly respected.