The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands note with regret that the British people have voted against membership of the European Union.

This decision of the British people is a turning point in Europe’s history.

The European Union loses not only a member state but a considerable chunk of its history, traditions and experience.

This event creates a new situation. The decision of the British people cancels out the agreement the European Council had reached on 18 and 19 February [2016]. Now we are waiting for the British government to clearly show that it will give effect to this decision as quickly as possible. The relevant provisions of the Lisbon Treaty (article 50 of the Treaty on European Union) allows for an orderly exit. We are ready to work with the institutions when the forthcoming negotiations, defining and clarifying future relations between the EU and the UK, have commenced.

We remain firmly convinced that the European Union offers a unique framework in history and is indispensable to guaranteeing liberty, prosperity and security in Europe; to defining peaceful relations that are mutually advantageous between her people and to contributing to peace and stability in the world.

Since the six founding states established it in 1957, the EU has successfully crossed a long path. It has reunited Eastern and Western Europe and has brought about the longest period of peace our continent has known in modern times. Furthermore, it has been an engine in gathering together the people of Europe, and by doing this, keeping the promises which we had undertaken in the treaties: to create an ever closer union between the people of Europe. We pursue our efforts in favour of a European Union, 27 states strong, that is stronger and more cohesive, resting on common values and on the primacy of law.

It is to this end that we also recognize several levels of ambition between Member States in the plan for European integration. Without revisiting what we have accomplished, we must find better ways of handling these levels of different ambitions so that Europe best responds to the expectations of all its citizens.

It is in this spirit that once again, we strongly declare our common attachment to the European Union. However, we are mindful of the dissatisfaction over its functioning, clearly apparent today in some sectors of our society. We take that very seriously and are resolved to take action so that the EU functions better for all our citizens. Neither a simple appeal to the benefits of Europe nor a period of mere reflection can be an appropriate response. We must focus our common efforts on the challenges that can only be treated through common European responses, while leaving all other tasks to the national or regional level. We have to bring the best responses to questions which we have chosen to address at the European level. We also have to assume the responsibility that falls upon us to strengthen solidarity and cohesion in the European Union.

Today, Europe is confronted by immense challenges in the context of globalization that require a better European Union. We have to focus more EU action on the big challenges of our time: guaranteeing the security of our citizens vis-à-vis external threats and internal growth; establishing a stable framework for cooperation to deal with migration and the influx of refugees, to stimulate the European economy to promote our economic harmonization, sustainable growth and job creation; also to make the way towards the realization of European Monetary Union. These challenges fall within a context of increasing instability and geopolitical changes to our European borders.

We express our confidence in our common European future.

Anoosha Boralessa