EU strong enough to survive Brexit, no privileges to UK over exit talks – Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel © Fabrizio Bensch
The UK shouldn’t expect any special treatment during negotiations to leave the European Union, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, said ahead of the two-day EU summit in Brussels to discuss the fallout from the Brexit vote.

“Whoever wants to leave this family cannot expect to have no more obligations but to keep privileges,” Merkel said.

The chancellor added that there will also be no "cherry-picking" during the talks between Brussels and London on parting ways.

"There must be and will be a noticeable difference between whether a country wants to be a member of the European Union family or not," she said.

Merkel also expressed confidence that the EU will be "strong enough" to survive Brexit, promising to do everything to keep the bloc intact.

The chancellor also responded to calls coming from across the EU to speed up decision making of Britain’s fate, saying that "no formal or informal" negotiations with the UK will take place until it officially launches process of leaving the EU.

The German leader underlined that London is not yet ready to invoke Article 50 – a procedure governing a member state leaving that will be used for the first time.

She said that Britain will remain a part of the EU "for as long as the negotiations take place," saying that all its rights and duties will be in place “until the actual exit.”

But London is in no rush to activate Article 50, with British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne saying that the two-year-long process will only be launched when the UK has clear view on the future of its relations with the European Union.

Outgoing UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who announced that he’ll be stepping down as PM and Conservative Party leader after the Brexit vote, believes that Article 50 should be launched by his successor.

But the pressure on the UK to trigger the process of leaving the EU is mounting. On Tuesday, a number of European leaders urged Britain to clarify its position as soon as possible to resolve the political and economic turbulence caused by the Brexit vote on its EU membership.

The UK should launch talks on leaving the EU “as fast as possible,” French President Francois Hollande said, adding that the EU has “no time to lose” to plan its future relations with Britain, AP reports.

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At the same time, the head of the EU Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, stressed that “a prolonged period of uncertainty” caused by the UK’s current unclear status following the referendum is unacceptable.
Meanwhile, Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel compared the EU with Facebook, as he commented on the issue of Brexit.

"We are not on Facebook, where things are complicated. We are married or divorced but not something in between,” he said.

On June 23, the UK held a referendum on leaving the EU, with 51.9 percent supporting Brexit and 48.1 percent voting to remain.