Following an informal meeting in Brussels today 29 June 2016, the European Council has published the following statement:

“We, the Heads of State or Government of 27 Member States, as well as the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission, deeply regret the outcome of the referendum in the UK but we respect the will expressed by a majority of the British people. Until the UK leaves the EU, EU law continues to apply to and within the UK, both when it comes to rights and obligations.

There is a need to organise the withdrawal of the UK from the EU in an orderly fashion. Article 50 TEU provides the legal basis for this process. It is up to the British government to notify the European Council of the UK’s intention to withdraw from the Union. This should be done as quickly as possible. There can be no negotiations of any kind before this notification has taken place

Once the notification has been received, the European Council will adopt guidelines for the negotiations of an agreement with the UK. In the further process the European Commission and the European Parliament will play their full role in accordance with the Treaties.

In the future, we hope to have the UK as a close partner of the EU and we look forward to the UK stating its intentions in this respect. Any agreement, which will be concluded with the UK as a third country, will have to be based on a balance of rights and obligations. Access to the Single Market requires acceptance of all four freedoms.

The outcome of the UK referendum creates a new situation for the European Union. We are determined to remain united and work in the framework of the EU to deal with the challenges of the 21st century and find solutions in the interest of our nations and peoples. We stand ready to tackle any difficulty that may arise from the current situation.

The European Union is a historic achievement of peace, prosperity and security on the European continent and remains our common framework. At the same time many people express dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs, be it at the European or national level. Europeans expect us to do better when it comes to providing security, jobs and growth, as well as hope for a better future. We need to deliver on this, in a way that unites us, not least in the interest of the young.

This is why we are starting today a political reflection to give an impulse to further reforms, in line with our Strategic Agenda, and to the development of the EU with 27 Member States. This requires leadership of the Heads of State or Government. We will come back to this issue at an informal meeting in September in Bratislava.”