We are sad for the UK and Europe, says Foreign Minister

European Union – British referendum – Statement by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, on his arrival at the informal foreign ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg

Luxembourg, 24 June 2016

It was important for me to be here this morning with my fellow foreign ministers and ministers of state for European affairs.

We are sad, but the British people have made their choice and we must respect it. We are sad for the United Kingdom and sad for Europe.

But we must face up to this situation, and facing up means preserving the unity of Europe, continuing to implement its priorities, while being even more mindful of the aspirations of people throughout Europe. So there is a lot of work ahead.

But what is important today is to respect the vote of the British people. I say this because some think that we are in a state of chaos. No, there is no chaos, because there are treaties. And Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union sets out the conditions for withdrawal from the EU. So there must be no uncertainty. The British government must announce the official decision of the British people and we must start implementing this article, for the cohesion and stability of both Europe and the United Kingdom. This is a matter of urgency. There is no time to lose. Any period of uncertainty would be detrimental.

So these are the issues which we will discuss today. We will make another statement later.

Thank you./.

European Union – British referendum/Germany – Replies by M. Harlem Désir, Minister of State for European Affairs, to questions in the Senate

Paris, 23 June 2016

British citizens are voting. Let’s respect the ballot under way, because they’re expressing a sovereign choice.

France would like the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union; it’s in its interests and it’s in Europe’s interests.

Whatever the British people’s decision, France will continue to champion an ambitious idea of the European project. In terms of the economy, citizenship and security, we have common challenges and we must tackle them together.

The President will meet Mrs Merkel the day after the referendum, before the next European summit.

France and Germany must walk hand in hand and address the major crises together, as they have done in the Ukraine crisis thanks to the President’s initiative of organizing a Normandy-format meeting with Mr Poroshenko and Mr Putin. In the face of the Syria crisis and the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, we’ll once again rise to the challenge of building Europe together.


Again, let’s leave the sovereign British people to reach a decision. I repeat that the government wishes the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union.

France has been a major player in every major stage of building Europe: the ECSC, the Common Market, the CAP, the Schengen agreements, the single currency etc. France has always taken initiatives, even when it comes to the least popular projects, such as defence. It was the President who first activated Article 42 (7) of the Lisbon Treaty so our neighbours could intervene alongside us in Iraq, Syria and Mali.

It’s France which is promoting flexibility in the Stability Pact, the recovery in Europe and the path to growth, through the Juncker Plan. Its voice must be heard and it will be./.

publie le 24/06/2016

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