Berlin: EU founding states urge UK to leave bloc ‘soon’

'We now have to turn the page. We would like to negotiate as soon as possible,' Dutch FM says following meeting in Berlin


EU’s founding member states have urged the U.K. to leave the union “as soon as possible”, which would then enable them to focus on reforming the bloc after Brexit.

Foreign ministers of Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg made the joint call to the British government after a two-hour long crisis talk in Berlin Saturday.

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said the British government should begin exit negotiations without delay, after majority of its citizens voted to leave the union Thursday.

“We now have to turn the page. We would like to negotiate as soon as possible,” Koenders told a joint press conference following the meeting.

“We want negotiations in good faith, but at the same time Europe moves on. And that will not be as business as usual,” he said.

Koenders underlined that after Brexit, EU members states wanted to focus on reforms and measures to address concerns of European citizens.

“There are many concerns that our citizens have…in terms of migration, in terms of jobs and growth, but also in security,” he added.

 ‘No cat-and-mouse game’

Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn underlined that the U.K.’s exit negotiations could only begin if and when the British government officially demanded it according to Article 50 of the EU charter.

He urged the U.K. government to invoke this article as soon as possible as it had promised to its British citizens before the referendum, and said for economic ties, it was important to have speedy progress in negotiations, and define a new framework of cooperation between the EU and the U.K.

“I hope that there won’t be a cat-and-mouse game here. Such a behavior would not suit Great Britain at all, it would not suit EU at all,” he said.

“Here there must be clarity. The people made their decision and now we should implement this decision,” he said.

U.K. citizens voted to leave the EU in a historic referendum Thursday, where almost 52 percent of voters rejected their country’s 43-year EU membership. The referendum sparked worries across European capitals for a domino effect in other members.

While EU’s leading member states demand exit talks to begin as soon as possible, the British government is signaling that it would only start negotiations after October.

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced after the referendum that he would leave office by the time of his party’s conference in October. He also said that the U.K. needed a new “strong leadership” to conduct exit negotiations with the EU.