— The six founding countries of the European Union, including Germany
and France, will push for negotiations with the U.K. about its exit to
start as soon as possible, foreign ministers said in Berlin on Saturday.
“This process has to begin as soon as possible, so that we’re not left
hanging,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said at a
meeting with his colleagues from France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy and
“We will begin this process immediately, this has to be clear — the
British people have spoken,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc
Ayrault, adding: “And the 27 other EU members states have to be
respected, as well.”
“I hope this will not turn into a game of cat and mouse,” said
Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn.
Germany and France will push for “flexible” EU reforms that would allow
member countries to opt out of steps towards deeper integration if they
wish, in an attempt to avoid more countries being dissuaded by rapid
integration steps, according to German media reports.
“It’s about holding Europe together, which also means to seizing this
point in time as an opportunity,” said Germany’s Steinmeier following
the meeting, adding that it was a moment for reflection about the EU
“but also for listening to each other.”
He had warned ahead of the talks that the European Union should not
react to the Brexit vote with “hysteria” nor fall into a state of shock.
On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to meet with
French President Fran?ois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi
and EU Council President Donald Tusk to prepare for Tuesday’s summit of
EU leaders, including U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron.