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The EU expects exit talks to start as soon as possible: EU-wide media reports

Much of the EU media report that ahead of today’s EU summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi have said they are in full agreement on how to handle the situation after British citizens voted last Thursday to leave the bloc. However, David Cameron has so far refused to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and has signalled that he wants to wait several months before beginning the country’s exit from the bloc, leaving his European partners in uncertainty.

Meanwhile, according to The Sun and The Wall Street Journal Europe, US Secretary of State John Kerry has advised the EU against looking to punish the UK for voting to leave the bloc. John Kerry held talks with EC President Jean-Claude Juncker and Vice-President High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, commenting: “I think it is absolutely essential that we stay focused on how in this transitional period no one loses their head, nobody goes off half-cocked, people don’t start ginning up scatter-brained or revengeful premises.”

Most EU media expect exit talks to start as soon as possible in order to cut short the current period of uncertainty and to respect the will of the British people. In an interview granted with BFM TV and SKY TG 24, EcoFin Commissioner Pierre Moscovici says that he “does not sincerely believe” that a financial crisis as well as an economic recession will occur in Europe following the British referendum. He rather considers that there are “questions” that need answers and that “the enemy of the economy is uncertainty.” “This is why it is necessary to move forward in an organised and practical manner towards the negotiation.”

According to Athinia, Commissioner Günther Oettinger is of the same opinion. Paris and Berlin want to reinforce integration within the EU after the British referendum, bolstering common defence, migration and fiscal ties among members, media revealed, citing a Franco-German memorandum named “A strong Europe in the world of uncertainties”. The paper, written by Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Jean-Marc Ayrault, will be submitted to the European Council possibly in September, Süddeutsche Zeitung and Les Echos report. The proposal will target homeland and foreign security, border control, relations with Africa, economy, growth and employment.

According to Kathimerini, Polish Foreign Affairs Minister Witold Waszczykowski announced that Warsaw will today table a “radical” proposal for a new European Treaty, which will foresee the weakening of the EC’s powers and the strengthening of the European Council. Some media comment on the consequences of the Brexit for Europe. In an op-ed in NRC Handelsblad, economist Vladislav Inozemtsev writes that Brexit could mark the start of reforms of the EU.

Jean-Marc Ferry writes in Le Monde that Brexit calls for an intensification of consultations between member states and greater power for the people, rather than the establishment of a supranational power. In an interview with La Stampa, Italian President Sergio Mattarella warns it is time for Europe to “show a sense of responsibility” and for Italy to play a major role. In an interview with Handelsblatt, Former European Commissioner Pascal Lamy advocates the strengthening of the EU in light of the Brexit referendum: “for ten years, Europe has not delivered” on its promise of prosperity, security and progress, and argues that Europe must now prove its purpose. Therefore, it must show that one can achieve more together than unilaterally.

According to Celso Filipe, writing in Jornal de Negócios, the EU should speak with a single voice after the Brexit. Instead, the EU has three voices (Angela Merkel, François Hollande and Matteo Renzi), while the other 24 member states are merely sounding boxes that amplify these voices. Due to the current “chaos” in the UK and the hesitation of Europeans between pushing for a “Brexit now” or showing some understanding, the actual leaving date of the UK seems more undecided than ever, Libération and several other EU media comment.

Writing in The Financial Times, Gideon Rachman suggests that Britain will not actually leave the EU, but instead will be offered new concessions that would allow a second membership referendum. According to La Stampa, an unnamed top EU diplomat said he believes the United Kingdom “will never notify its intention to leave the EU.” An editorial in The Wall Street Journal Europe argues that it would be a mistake for European leaders to seek to punish Britain for voting to leave the European Union. Britain is a significant market for many European products, the newspaper says, and the last thing European leaders should want is for higher import prices for their fragile economies. The best option for the EU is to offer London generous terms on trade, it says, without the political, judicial and regulatory encumbrances that drove Britain out of the EU in the first place.

Meanwhile, EU diplomats have dismissed Boris Johnson’s claim that the UK could negotiate access to the EU single market without obeying any of the rules, `The Guardian reports. “It is a pipe dream,” said one EU diplomat, “You cannot have full access to the single market and not accept its rules.” In a commentary in Die Welt, Richard Herzinger critically notes that the “Brexit tragedy” is slowly turning into a farce, as it emerges that none of the leading Brexit supporters have actually made plans for the UK post-Brexit.

Several EU media also report that on Sunday Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek accused President Juncker of failing to try to stop Britain’s departure from the bloc, suggesting the European Commission chief should quit. According to Il Mattino, President Juncker told the German daily Bild he has never considered stepping down after the result of the Brexit referendum. Il Mattino adds that today, authoritative voices, like the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, are urging Mr Juncker to resign.

Commission Chief Spokesperson Margaritis Schinas claimed that it was not the Commission that requested the referendum, and that the responsibilities should be sought elsewhere. He recalled that the Commission worked to create the conditions for a fair agreement with the UK, which was unanimously accepted by the EU28, Alithia writes. Super Express writes that Polish Law and Justice Chairman Kaczyński held European Council President Donald Tusk accountable for the Brexit, pointing out the fact that Tusk had been responsible for negotiations with the UK and thus should “disappear from European politics.”

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said yesterday that while Malta was not keen to see its EU presidency extended by six months to a full year, the country was ready to assist the EU following the Brexit referendum, all Maltese media report. Finally, The Wall Street Journal Europe, The Times and The Cyprus Mail reveal that Britain’s departure from the European Union will erode the status of the English language in EU institutions, with the European Commission already moving to drop English from some of its official communications.


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