FRANCE’s foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, called on Saturday for the European Union to move ahead quickly to seal the terms of a British exit, arguing that the other 27 members needed to give the bloc new purpose or risk populism taking hold.
“Negotiations have to go quickly in the common interest,” Ayrault said on his way to a meeting in Berlin of foreign ministers from the six founding members of the EU – Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Britain voted on Thursday to leave the EU, forcing the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron and dealing the biggest blow since World War Two to the European project of forging greater unity.
The EU’s other members and the British government must now work out the terms for the country’s departure and future relationship with the bloc.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told German newspaper Bild that Britain must consider what kind of a relationship it wanted with the EU but it could not pick and choose.
“There will definitely not be any cherry picking,” he said.
“Out is out,” Juncker added. “Now the priority is a clean divorce, because citizens and businesses need legal certainty.”