Martin Schulz, the president of the European parliament has confirmed the bloc wants Britain out as soon as possible, rather than waiting until October to begin negotiations as David Cameron said.
“I doubt it is only in the hands of the government of the United Kingdom,” he said. “We have to take note of this unilateral declaration that they want to wait until October, but that must not be the last word.”
The president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, similarly said that there was no reason to wait until October to begin negotiating Britain’s departure from the European Union.
With anti-European sentiment on the rise across the continent, European leaders called for a reform of the EU in light of the vote, to avoid alienating their constituencies:
The French president, François Hollande, said he “profoundly regretted” the Brexit vote but that the EU now had to make changes. Hollande said the vote would put Europe to the test: “To move forward, Europe cannot act as before.”
Mark Rutte, the prime minister of the Netherlands, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said the EU “has to become more relevant, deliver added value to our lives: jobs, growth, control of our external borders”. He said he personally felt “this strong discontent with Europe, the Europe of the lofty speeches. Most of my EU colleagues also share this view. They too don’t want any more big visions, conventions and treaties.”
Sigmar Gabriel, the head of Germany’s Social Democrats, Merkel’s coalition partners, said the vote was a “shrill wake-up call” for European politicians. “Whoever fails to heed it or takes refuge in the usual rituals, will drive Europe against the wall.”
Poland’s foreign minister, Witold Waszczykowski, said the result showed “disillusionment with European integration, and declining trust in the EU”.
The Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, tweeted: “We must change it to make it more human and more just. But Europe is our home, it’s our future.”
Lars Loekke Rasmussen, the Danish prime minister, said Denmark “belongs in Europe” but that mounting Euroscepticism must be taken seriously. Read more at the Guardian…