European Parliament chief Martin Schulz expects talks on Brexit to begin soon, hopes to avoid contagion

European Union leaders say they are determined to maintain unity despite Britain's decision to leave the bloc.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz expects negotiations over Britain's EU departure to begin quickly.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz expects negotiations over Britain's EU departure to begin quickly.PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN (REUTERS/AFP) - European Parliament President Martin Schulz expects negotiations over Britain's departure from the European Union to begin quickly, he said on Friday (June 24) after Britain's vote to leave the bloc.

"The United Kingdom has decided to go its own way. I think the economic data show this morning that it will be a very difficult way," Mr Schulz told German television station ZDF.

"I expect that the negotiations on the exit will now begin quickly," he said, noting a fall in the pound after the referendum result. "I don't want the euro to experience something similar."

Mr Schulz also expressed hopes on Friday that Britain's decision to leave the EU would not lead to contagion, as Germany's finance minister said clear procedures for an exit from the bloc provided "reliability".

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

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

The EU was 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, adding: "We were prepared."

Mr Schulz added that he expected British Prime Minister David Cameron to speak at a special session of the European Parliament on Tuesday, and that negotiations would start soon over Britain's exit.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble noted that "the procedures for a withdrawal from the EU are clearly defined and will be applied. This provides reliability".

"Europe must now stand together. Together we will make the best out of the decision of our British friends," he added.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also regretted Britain's decision to leave the EU, calling it a "sad day for Europe".

"The early morning news from #GreatBritain are truly sobering. It looks like a sad day for #Europe +the #UnitedKingdom," Mr Steinmeier wrote on Twitter.