Shocked EU asks Britain to leave quickly

Shocked EU asks Britain to leave quickly
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BRUSSELS, June 24, (APP): Shocked EU asks Britain to leave quickly

 

A stunned EU on Friday urged Britain to leave as "soon as possible" amid fears the devastating blow to European unity could spark a chain reaction of  further referendums.

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande led calls for the European Union to reform in order to survive  a traumatic divorce with Britain following its vote to leave.

 

In a sign that the bloc wants to move on swiftly, EU chiefs told Britain in a strongly-worded joint statement to "give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be."

 

The uncompromising stance came after Prime Minister David Cameron said he would resign and leave the negotiations for Britain 's departure  from the 28-nation club to a successor who will be named by October.

 

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said he was  "very sad" that Britain had voted to leave, but repeated that there would  be "no renegotiation" of Britain 's membership.

 

Juncker, a former Luxembourg premier and strong federalist, said  "no" when asked if the vote spelled the beginning of the end for a  European Union that faces a huge rise in populist and eurosceptic parties.

 

- 'A wake-up call' -

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Worried European leaders will hold a series of crisis talks  in coming days, with Merkel saying she would host the leaders of  France and Italy along with EU President Donald Tusk in Berlin on  Monday to try to chart a reform plan.

 

"We take note of the British people's decision with regret. There is no doubt that this is a blow to Europe and to the European unification process," Merkel told reporters in Berlin.

 

With global markets in turmoil, she said it was important to "not draw quick and simple conclusions from the referendum in Great Britain , which would only further divide Europe."

 

Hollande said the Brexit vote was a "grave test for Europe,"  adding that the bloc "must show solidity and strength in its response  to the economic and financial risks."

 

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi echoed calls for  reform, saying "Europe is our house" and that "the house needs to be renovated, perhaps freshened up".

 

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, whose debt-hit country went through a referendum on its way to a bitterly-fought debt bailout, said  the result could be a "wake-up call" for the EU to "change its policies".

 

But he warned that it could also be "the start of a dangerous  path backwards for our peoples."

 

EU chief and former Polish premier Tusk -- who had earlier warned that a Leave vote could "end Western political civilization" -- put on a brave face, saying that "what does not kill you makes you stronger".

 

He insisted that the bloc was "determined to keep our unity at 27" and said the remaining leaders would meet separately without Cameron  on the sidelines of a summit of the full 28 in Brussels next week.

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