As Europe continued to digest the shock of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, foreign ministers of the EU’s six founding members – Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – met in Berlin Saturday to formulate a response.
European integration has taken a painful blow, but the bloc’s core members insist it won’t be fatal.
“We have to have the opportunity now to take care of Europe and its future. That means after the decision Great Britain made, negotiations on a British exit, or Brexit, should begin as soon as possible,” Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, told reporters after the meeting.
British Prime Minister David Cameron will travel to Brussels Tuesday. The following day, the 27 remaining member states will meet for the first time without Britain at the table.
Their differences won’t make for an easy settlement, said Tim Oliver, a political professor at the London School of Economics.
“It’s not going to be quick, it’s not going to be easy,” he said, “and it’s going to throw up lots of opportunity for division and bitterness not just between the UK and the EU, but within British government and British politics, and within the remaining EU member states.”