"Facing up means preserving the unity of Europe"
Statement by Jean-Marc Ayrault upon arrival at the informal meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Luxembourg
"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 the 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. I can say that no, there is no chaos, because we have 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 must be done as 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.