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Holding Europe together

24.06.2016 - Article

Commenting on the result of the EU referendum in the UK, Foreign Minister Steinmeier said “we must not allow ourselves to become hysterical or paralysed by shock”.

Commenting today (24 June) on the result of the EU referendum in the UK, Foreign Minister Steinmeier said “we must not allow ourselves to become hysterical or paralysed by shock”. Ahead of the EU Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg, he called for a clear message to be sent that “while we are losing one member state, we are working to make Europe strong”. Steinmeier has invited his counterparts from France, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg to Berlin tomorrow for talks on the future of Europe.

Steinmeier speaking to the press in Luxembourg (file photo)
Steinmeier speaking to the press in Luxembourg (file photo)© Thomas Köhler/photothek.net

A bitter day for Europe

Speaking before the General Affairs Council meeting, Steinmeier expressed disappointment in the result of the EU referendum in the UK: “There are no two ways about it. This is a bitter day for Europe,” he said, shortly before his meeting with his EU counterparts in Luxembourg. “We never stopped hoping that the British people would reach a different decision and vote in favour of the European Union.” Steinmeier noted that the decision to leave the European Union had been “close, but clear”. “First and foremost, we have to respect that,” he said.

This represents the departure not only of a member state but also of a wealth of national history, tradition and experience that has helped shape the European Union throughout the past decades.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier in Luxembourg
Foreign Minister Steinmeier in Luxembourg© www.consilium.europa.eu

Keeping Europe together

The priority now is to keep Europe together, Steinmeier underlined, and to show that “we have the strength to come through this crisis”. He said it was vital “not to become hysterical or paralysed by shock”. Although we do not yet have answers to all the questions following the Brexit decision, people wanted to see that the European Union is capable of solving problems such as the refugee crisis and doing more for employment and growth. The European Union also needed to find joint answers to the changed security situation. “We therefore need to concentrate now on reaching common European solutions,” the Foreign Minister said.

He underlined his hope that “today’s General Affairs Council can send a clear message for the future that, while we are losing one member state, we are working to make Europe strong”. Steinmeier has invited his counterparts from France, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg to Berlin for talks tomorrow. How to deal with the UK’s exit from the EU will top the agenda at the EU founding members’ meeting.

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