Germany, France, Italy: no Brexit talks until formal leave application filed | News | DW | 27.06.2016
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Germany, France, Italy: no Brexit talks until formal leave application filed

Germany, France and Italy have agreed not to negotiate future relations with Britain until it formally notifies the EU of plans to exit the bloc. Any drawn out exit process could endanger the economy.

Following crisis talks in Berlin with French president Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that "there will be no informal or formal talks on the exit of Britain until an application has been filed to leave the European Union."

European leaders are in uncharted waters following British voters' decision to leave the EU last week, and even leaders in the UK are scrambling to determine what to do next.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who announced on Friday that he would resign, has said he would leave to his successor the decision to trigger Article 50, which would set in motion an up to two year process of negotiations to leave the bloc.

On Monday, Cameron told lawmakers that Britain would not implement Article 50 "at this time" as the country must first "determine the kind of relationship we want with the EU."

It could take until September or October until for Cameron's replacement to be chosen, leaving several months of political and economic uncertainty hovering over Europe.

British Finance Minister George Osborne said that Article 50 should only be triggered when there was a clear view of what British relations with the continent would like.

While most European countries including France have urged Britain to formally trigger Article 50 without delay, Merkel has taken a more measured response.

"We cannot afford a deadlock... but I have some understanding for the fact that Britain is taking a certain amount of time to analyze the situation," Merkel said during a press conference Monday.

Without mentioning whether Cameron's October timeline was too long, Merkel said a "long-term suspension" of Article 50 would be in nobody's economic interest. "There must be no (prolonged) period of uncertainty," she said.

French President Francois Hollande did not mince his words, urging Britain to trigger the exit process "without wasting time."

"Being responsible means not wasting time -- not wasting time in dealing with the question of Britain's departure, not wasting time too in putting in place the new stimulus that we need to give to the European Union, that is to say, the 27 members," Hollande said.

"Because nothing is worse than uncertainty," he added. "Uncertainty generates often irrational behavior. Uncertainty also leads financial markets to act irrationally."

European leaders are set to meet in Brussels for a two day summit starting on Tuesday, the first without Britain.

Merkel said the summit would focus on countering "centrifugal forces" within the EU and set "a new impulse" for cooperation in security, refugee policy, jobs and economic growth.

'This decision weakens the UK'

German business leaders echoed Hollande and Merkel's sentiments in calling on Britain to provide some sort of plan for the future to avoid further blows to the continent's economies.

In the interest of mutual business dealings and market stability, "the British government must quickly implement the exit process," said the Federation of German Industries (BDI) in a statement to DW.

The BDI said that Britain's decision would have far-reaching negative economic consequences: "This decision weakens the United Kingdom itself, as well as the EU and Germany, as financially as it does politically. Now it is the responsibility of our politicians to minimize the damage."

cw,es/kl (AFP, AP, dpa)