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Merkel: Brexit has cut into European unity

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Merkel: Brexit has cut into European unity
Angela Merkel at a press conference after the Brexit vote on Friday. Photo: DPA.
13:13 CEST+02:00
Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that the UK's decision to leave the EU has created a "cut in Europe" and the project of European unity.

Merkel spoke at a press conference on Friday of her "deep regret" at the decision by British voters to part way with the EU after over four decades of membership.

“Today is a cut into Europe and a cut into the project of European unity,” she said during the press conference in Berlin.

But "what the consequences of this would be... would depend on whether we -- the other 27 member states of the EU -- prove to be willing and able to not draw quick and simple conclusions from the referendum in Great Britain, which would only further divide Europe," said Merkel.

Member states should "calmly and prudently analyse and evaluate the situation, before making the right decisions together," said Merkel.

On Monday, European Council President Donald Tusk, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi will come to Berlin for talks on what the next step should be, she said.

There are three issues that the Brexit vote has raised that must be learned today, Merkel went on.

“Firstly, the future of the EU depends on how well we prove ourselves to be willing and capable of making the right decisions and not estranging the UK.”

Citizens of every EU member state have misgivings about the EU, Merkel said. Now it is the task of the remaining 27 members to convince their voters of the benefits that being part of the EU brings. 

The Chancellor also spoke of maintaining a “close and fair relationship” with the UK after it leaves the Union.

But she also warned Britain that it must respect all its commitments to the EU until the day it officially leaves.

She said the second thing to be noted was that in the modern world, European nations cannot expect to be able to compete as single states, but that they must pool their resources to confront common challenges.

Thirdly she emphasized that the EU was created as an answer to war on the continent.

"The idea for the European Union was an idea for peace," the Chancellor said.

In today's troubled world with conflict on the European periphery, the peace that European unity has brought “is anything but self-evident” she said.

The Chancellor finished by saying the she was “convinced” that the EU is strong enough to survive the exit of the United Kingdom.

With AFP

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