Obama: Brexit puts European integration project on hold

U.S. President Barack Obama © Carlos Barria
Britain’s decision to leave the EU has paused the project of full European integration, but will not cause "major cataclysmic changes," US President Barack Obama said.

Brexit has led to an over-reaction across the globe, Obama told National Public Radio on Tuesday.

There's been a little bit of hysteria post-Brexit vote, as if somehow NATO's gone, the trans-Atlantic alliance is dissolving, and every country is rushing off to its own corner. That's not what's happening,” he said.

He added that he wouldn’t “overstate” this hysteria.

I think that the best way to think about this is, a pause button has been pressed on the project of full European integration.

The US leader pointed at Norway, which is not an EU member but remains on friendly terms with the union.

If over the course of what is going to be at least a two-year negotiation between England and Europe, Great Britain ends up being affiliated to Europe like Norway is, the average person is not going to notice a big change."

"I think this will be a moment when all of Europe says, 'Let's take a breath and let's figure out how do we maintain some of our national identities, how do we preserve the benefits of integration, and how do we deal with some of the frustrations that our own voters are feeling'," Obama said, adding he does not anticipate "major cataclysmic changes as a consequence of this."

The UK's unprecedented decision to leave the EU has caused a furor across the world, with stocks plunging amid financial and political uncertainty. On June 23, at least 51.9 percent voted to leave the union.

READ MORE: European markets rebound after two days of heavy losses

On Thursday June 23, 51.9 percent of Britons voted to leave the union, sparking turmoil in the UK and elsewhere.

Friday saw London’s FTSE index lose $164 billion in the space of 10 minutes of trading, and on Monday the British pound plunged to its lowest level in almost 31 years.

READ MORE: Scottish leader could ask local parliament to block UK exit from EU

International rating agencies Fitch, Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s all downgraded Britain following the country’s vote to leave the EU.

At the same time, Scotland has been strongly hinting at vetoing the referendum result, while London Mayor Sadiq Khan has demanded more autonomy for the capital. Khan’s statement came after a petition to make London an independent city-state attracted 175,000 signatures.

READ MORE: Ice-Exit! Internet reacts to England’s shock defeat in Euro 2016 in typically taunting fashion 

In the EU, Brexit inspired politicians and activists to ponder similar initiatives. French National Front leader Marine Le Pen called for a referendum on leaving the EU, although her initiative was rejected by President François Hollande.

In Finland over 10,000 people have already signed a freshly launched petition to hold a ‘Fixit’ referendum. Dutch anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders said the Netherlands had the right to a ‘Nexit’ vote, while across the Atlantic people in the US state of Texas have starting pushing for a – a Texas split from the USA – on social media.