Berlin - France's foreign minister called on Saturday for the European Union to move ahead quickly to seal the terms of a British exit from the bloc, arguing that the other 27 members needed to give the EU new purpose or else risk populism taking hold.
“Negotiations have to go quickly in the common interest,” Jean-Marc Ayrault said on his way to a meeting in Berlin of foreign ministers from the six founding members of the EU - Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Britain voted on Thursday to leave the EU, forcing the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron and dealing the biggest blow since World War Two to the European project of forging greater unity.
The EU's other members and the British government must now work out the terms for the country's departure and future relationship with the bloc.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, hosting Saturday's meeting, struck a more cautious note but said it was essential to preserve the “project of freedom and stability” that the six founding EU members had forged.