France says Brexit vote ‘tough test’ for Europe
French President Francois Hollande said on Friday (June 24) the Britain’s Brexit vote seriously challenged the European Union, adding that he would take initiatives to jolt the bloc back on track.
Hollande said the EU must focus on key priorities like security and defense, border protection and job creation as well as reinforcing the euro zone, while leaving member states to handle what falls to them.
The leader of the euro zone’s second-largest economy said negotiations over Britain’s exit must be swift. He said he regretted but respected the British referendum’s outcome.
“The British vote is a tough test for Europe,” Hollande said in a televised address, adding that he would travel to Berlin on Monday to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and possibly Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Hollande will also meet with the leaders of France’s main political parties.
Hollande’s prime minister, Manuel Valls, said it was time to reinvent Europe or risk the bloc’s fragmentation. Valls said the vote revealed a malaise within Europe that had been ignored for too long.
Quitting the EU could cost Britain access to the EU’s trade barrier-free single market and mean it must seek new trade accords with countries around the world.
The EU for its part will be economically and politically damaged, facing the departure not only of its most free-market proponent but also a member with a U.N. Security Council veto and powerful army.
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