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EU, world leaders react to Brexit vote

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President of the European Council Donald Tusk . / AFP / STR

President of the European Council Donald Tusk . / AFP / STR

Joint statement by the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk;  President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz; Holder of the Rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU, Mark Rutte as well as the   President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, on the outcome of the United Kingdom referendum

President Tusk, President Schulz and Prime Minister Rutte met this morning in Brussels upon the invitation of European Commission President, Juncker. They discussed the outcome of the United Kingdom referendum and made the following joint statement:

“In a free and democratic process, the British people have expressed their wish to leave the European Union. We regret this decision but respect it.

“This is an unprecedented situation but we are united in our response. We will stand strong and uphold the EU’s core values of promoting peace and the well-being of its peoples. The Union of 27 Member States will continue.

“The Union is the framework of our common political future. We are bound together by history, geography and common interests and will develop our cooperation on this basis.

“Together, we will address our common challenge to generate growth, increase prosperity and ensure a safe and secure environment for our citizens. The institutions will play their full role in this endeavour.

“We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be. Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty.

“We have rules to deal with this in an orderly way. Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union sets out the procedure to be followed if a Member State decides to leave the European Union.

“We stand ready to launch negotiations swiftly with the United Kingdom regarding the terms and conditions of its withdrawal from the European Union. Until this process of negotiations is over, the United Kingdom remains a member of the European Union, with all the rights and obligations that derive from this.

“According to the Treaties which the United Kingdom has ratified, EU law continues to apply to the full to and to the United Kingdom until it is no longer a Member.

“As agreed, the “New Settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union”, reached at the European Council on February 18 to 19, will not take effect and ceases to exist. There will be no renegotiation.

“As regards the United Kingdom, we hope to have it as a close partner of the European Union also in the future. We expect the United Kingdom to formulate its proposals in this respect.

“Any agreement, which will be concluded with the United Kingdom as a third country, will have to reflect the interests of both sides and be balanced in terms of rights and obligations.”

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general, said the alliance would be unaffected by the Brexit: “As it defines the next chapter in its relationship with the EU, I know that the United Kingdom’s position in NATO will remain unchanged. The U.K. will remain a strong and committed NATO ally, and will continue to play its leading role in our alliance … The alliance remains committed to closer cooperation with the European Union.”

President Obama emphasized continuity in the face of change: “The United Kingdom and the European Union will remain indispensable partners of the United States even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship to ensure continued stability, security, and prosperity for Europe, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the world,” he said.
From the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Russia’s Vladimir Putin said the Brexit vote was understandable: “I think it’s comprehensible why this happened: first, no one wants to feed and subsidize poorer economies, to support other states, support entire nations.” And second, he said, “Apparently the British people are not satisfied with the way problems are being solved in the security sphere, these problems have become more acute lately with the migration processes.”

Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, appealed for calm: “The decision of leaving the EU has an impact on everything, and we believe all related parties must calm down and evaluate the situation,” she said. “A prosperous Europe is in the interests of all parties and China is willing to keep cooperating with Britain and is fully confident in China-EU ties.”

Jitters were felt in Japan, where the stock market plunged on news of the Brexit. “The foreign exchange market and other financial markets need to be stabilized. We are very concerned over the risks to the global economy, and financial and exchange markets,” Finance Minister Taro Aso told reporters. “We must respond firmly,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In France, Prime Minister Manuel Valls called the vote an “electrochoc,” an explosive shock, and said, “At stake is the break-up pure and simple of the union. Now is the time to invent another Europe.” President Francois Hollande tweeted that the vote “puts the European Union in difficulties. We must be aware of its shortcomings.”


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