‘Negotiations have to go quickly in the common interest,’ says French foreign minister. Britain was ordered to get out of the EU without delay at a meeting of the EU’s founding member foreign minister on Saturday outside Berlin.
As the dust began to settle on the Brexit decision, chief diplomats from Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy and the Netherlands made clear that their focus now on the EU, not Britain.
“We understand and respect the result and understand that Britain is now concentrating on Britain,” said Mr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, host of the back-to-the-roots meeting. “But London has a responsibility toward more than just Britain. We must now be allowed to focus on the future of Europe. ”
On Friday, departing British prime minister David Cameron suggested that London would the first step in divorce proceedings would come under his successor – by October at the latest. But European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told German television on Friday night that it made “no sense” to hang around until October and that he expected Britain’s farewell letter on his desk “immediately”.
The six ministers meeting outside of Berlin agreed, one after another, that they had no interest in allowing a political vacuum develop and wanted Britain out of the EU sooner rather than later.
Luxembourg’s foreign minister Jean Asselborn warned London not to start a damaging “game of cat and mouse” by stalling Brexit negotiations, saying: “The people have spoken and we need to implement this decision.”
Echoing his colleagues’ remarks, Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders said that “this will not be business as usual” for Europe.