BERLIN (AP) — Top diplomats from the European Union’s original six founding nations are meeting in Berlin for hastily arranged talks following Britain’s stunning vote to leave the bloc.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says it is critical to see the vote as a wakeup call. He was heading into meetings Saturday with his counterparts from France, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Steinmeier says EU politicians must listen “to the expectations of the European governments but also to the expectations of the people.”
He cautioned against rash decisions, saying that “it’s totally clear that in times like these one should neither be hysterical nor fall into paralysis.”
Steinmeier’s office says the meeting is one of many conversations now taking place, and shouldn’t be seen as “an exclusive format.”
France’s foreign minister is hoping Britain can name a new prime minister in the coming days to speed up its departure from the European Union.
That time frame is highly unrealistic given the political turmoil in Britain. Instead it is likely to take months to name a replacement to Prime Minister David Cameron, who is resigning and wants his successor to handle the departure negotiations.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Saturday “they must designate a new prime minister, which would certainly require several days.”
Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said he hoped there would be no “cat and mouse” game now and that Britain would invoke Article 50 of the EU charter, which allows for a country to leave.
“There must be clarity,” Asselborn told reporters. “The people have spoken and we need to implement this decision.”
He added that once outside the bloc, Britain would be a “third country” — the EU term for non-members — in terms of trade agreements but emphasized that was “not meant negatively.”
Britain’s representative on the EU’s executive body says he is resigning because it would not be right to carry on after the U.K. vote to leave the bloc.
Jonathan Hill, Britain’s EU commissioner, says he’s very disappointed by the referendum result, but “what is done cannot be undone.”
Hill says in a statement that he will work with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to ensure there is an “orderly handover.”
Hill says he started his job skeptical of the EU but leaves it “certain that, despite its frustrations, our membership was good for our place in the world and good for our economy.”
Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland will launch immediate talks with European Union nations and institutions to find a way to remain in the bloc despite Britain’s vote to leave.
Sturgeon says voters in Scotland gave “emphatic” backing to remaining in the bloc. A majority of voters in more-populous England opted to leave.
After meeting with her Cabinet she said “we will seek to enter into immediate discussion” with the rest of the EU.
She says a new referendum on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom is “very much on the table.”