Merkel, Hollande and Renzi call for early start to Brexit talks

28 Jun 16

The leaders of France, Germany and Italy have called for Brexit negotiations to begin soon in order to avoid an impasse following the vote of the UK to leave the European Union.

In a meeting in Berlin, German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president François Hollande and Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi all reaffirmed their common commitment to European integration, but said the EU must be "revitalised".

Merkel said the decision of Britain to leave was “painful and regrettable" but urged the UK to begin the exit process under the Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which provides for a nation to be able to leave the EU.

“We obviously respect this decision, but the consequences must naturally be considered,” she added.

There would be no negotiations, either formal or informal, until the UK triggers article 50, the three leaders agreed.

They also agreed to develop plans to “revitalise” the union, which will be submitted to other EU member states at a European Council meeting today. These initially focus on internal and external security, particularly fighting terrorism, protecting the external borders and coping with the refugee crisis.

The comments came after the International Monetary Fund called for the UK’s decision to leave the EU to be respected and for the exit process to be conducted smoothly.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde, said “the British people have spoken and their decision is to be respected.”

She confirmed that a period of uncertainly is inevitable as the UK redefines its relationship with the EU. But in the meantime, it was “important there is clarity in the negotiation process, and it be carried out in as smooth a manner as possible”.

Lord Hill, the UK’s EU commissioner, resigned his post at the weekend.

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