Brexit: Sad day for Britain and EU, say European leaders

European Union leaders say they are determined to maintain unity despite Britain's decision to leave the bloc.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault addresses deputies during the questions to the government session at the French National Asssembly in Paris.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault addresses deputies during the questions to the government session at the French National Asssembly in Paris.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP, REUTERS) - French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Friday (June 24) bemoaned Britain's "sad" decision to leave the European Union (EU), saying Europe must win back the trust of its people.

"Sad for the United Kingdom. Europe carries on but it must react and win back the trust of its people. It is urgent," he tweeted.

French President Francois Hollande is expected to react to the news after a ministerial meeting on Friday morning.

He had earlier warned that Brexit would "have extremely serious consequences".

"It's more than the future of the United Kingdom that is at stake, it's the future of the European Union," he said on Wednesday.

 

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a Twitter message that he regretted Britain's decision to leave the EU.

"The early morning news from #GreatBritain are truly sobering. It looks like a sad day for #Europe +the #UnitedKingdom," he said.

EU Parliament President Martin Schulz said he would speak with German Chancellor Angela Merkel "on how we can avoid a chain reaction" of other EU states following the vote.

"The chain reaction that is being celebrated everywhere now by eurosceptics won't happen," he said.

 

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The EU is the biggest single market in the world and "Great Britain has just cut its ties with that market", Mr Schulz said. "That'll have consequences and I don't believe other countries will be encouraged to follow that dangerous path."

"I am not shocked," he said of the results of the British referendum.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg told broadcaster NRK that the EU should recognise that many citizens in Britain and the EU are not satisfied with the direction of Europe.

"I believe they will listen to the signal from both the British voters and many other voters around Europe who feel that the EU is not providing good enough answers to today's challenges," she said.

Unlike Nordic neighbours Sweden, Denmark and Finland, Norway is not an EU member but has close ties to the union and has adopted its rules on free trade and other key provisions.