Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement today ahead of the meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg:
There are no two ways about it. This is a bitter day for Europe. We never stopped hoping that the British people would reach a different decision and vote in favour of the European Union. They did not do so. They have chosen to leave the European Union. The decision was close, but it was clear, and we first and foremost have to respect that. Speaking for myself, however, I will say that 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.
Today is therefore a significant juncture. Our priority now must be to hold Europe together. We must not allow ourselves to become hysterical or paralysed by shock. And we have to say that we do not yet have answers to all the questions that are going to arise from this decision. But I do have a sense of what people want from us. They want to see that the European Union is capable of solving the problems its people are experiencing. We therefore need to concentrate now on reaching common European solutions in those areas where they are lacking. That will mean finding joint European answers to the refugee crisis, doing more for employment and growth and simultaneously making sure that the European Union also finds joint answers to the questions raised by the changed security situation.
This is not an easy day for Europe. The main thing now is to stand together and show that we have the strength to come through this crisis, and I therefore 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.