Senior European officials have said the UK must begin its exit from the EU “as soon as possible”, warning any delay could cause further uncertainty to markets.
A joint statement from Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, Mark Rutte, holder of the presidency of the council of the EU, and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, says it regrets the UK’s decision to leave, but respects it.
“This is an unprecedented situation but we are united in our response. We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be. Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty,” the statement says.
German chancellor Angela Merkel adds that the decision is a “blow” to the EU.
In a statement to German press, she said: “We take note of the British people’s decision with regret. There is no doubt that this is a blow to Europe and to the European unification process.”
She added that the consequences of the decision “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”.
Merkel will meet with French president Francois Hollande, Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi and Tusk on Monday.
The joint statement from Schulz, Tusk, Rutte and Juncker, adds that the EU is already prepared to quickly begin talks on the relationship between Europe and the UK post-Brexit.
“We stand ready to launch negotiations swiftly with the United Kingdom regarding the terms and conditions of its withdrawal from the European Union. Until this process of negotiations is over, the United Kingdom remains a member of the European Union, with all the rights and obligations that derive from this.”
The statement adds there is no room for renegotiation on the previous settlement agreed between the UK and the EU and it will “now not take effect and ceases to exist”.
“As regards the United Kingdom, we hope to have it as a close partner of the European Union in the future. We expect the United Kingdom to formulate its proposals in this respect. Any agreement, which will be concluded with the United Kingdom as a third country, will have to reflect the interests of both sides and be balanced in terms of rights and obligations.”
The European Central Bank adds that it is prepared to provide liquidity to markets if needed, saying it is “closely monitoring financial markets and is in close contact with other central banks”.
“The ECB has prepared for this contingency in close contact with the banks that it supervises and considers that the euro area banking system is resilient in terms of capital and liquidity. The ECB will continue to fulfil its responsibilities to ensure price stability and financial stability in the euro area,” a statement from the central bank adds.
The Bank of England has already pledged to provide £250bn in additional market liquidity, if needed, as well as helping to support foreign currency liquidity.