The European Union must hear “the expectations of the people” on issues such as migration and unemployment as it responds to Britain’s vote to leave, Germany’s foreign minister said.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier has been meeting with top diplomats from the EU’s five other founding nations in Berlin for hastily arranged talks following Britain’s referendum.
The German foreign minister invited his counterparts from France, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg to the government’s Villa Borsig mansion on the outskirts of Berlin.
As he was heading into the meeting, Mr Steinmeier implied it is important for leaders to better connect with the EU’s more than 500 million citizens and react to their worries.
He said now is the time to find out what the 27 remaining EU countries want for the future of the union. He said they also needed to listen to the EU’s citizens and hear “the expectations of the people”.
Mr Steinmeier mentioned the refugee crisis, high unemployment among young people in southern Europe and security concerns following the terror attacks in France and Belgium as important issues where people had the right to expect better answers from EU policy makers.
However, he cautioned against making rash decisions.
“It’s totally clear that in times like these, one should neither be hysterical nor fall into paralysis,” Mr Steinmeier said.
He added that “I’m certain that countries that have something to say will not allow that their Europe will be taken away.”
Despite the union’s current crisis, Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders said they would “try to go further now with the European integration”.
“We need to discuss with the UK the way out, but we need also to discuss how it is possible to do more with some partners or with 27 member states in different concrete fields,” Mr Reynders told reporters.
Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders said it was very important for the foreign ministers to look for “constructive, innovative European cooperation”.