21st Mar 2018

Shock, bewilderment: Brexit reactions pour in

  • "Now is the time for us to behave seriously and responsibly," European Parliament president Martin Schulz said. (Photo:

Shock, bewilderment, and awe. Reactions are pouring in from around the world following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union after Thursday's (23 June) EU referendum.

As Brits and everyone else begin to mull an EU exit some 16 million had opposed and another 17 million had backed, big questions are surfacing on what will happen next.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

For the referendum spectators, the move signals the dawn of a new era for a European Union in trouble.

The Germans were among the first to react.

Germany's vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel highlighted the mood with a blunt tweet for those who counted on the UK to remain an EU member state.

"Damn! A bad day for Europe," he wrote in German.

Germany's minister for the European Union, Michael Roth, was more sanguine.

"A really sad day for #UK and #Europe. Europeans must stand united now. People deserve a better #EU," he tweeted.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany's foreign minister, also described the day as sad for both Europe and the UK.

But Gerard Araud, French ambassador to Washington, was less forgiving.

"Now to the other members states to save the EU from unraveling which excludes business as usual, especially in Brussels. Reform or die!," he tweeted.

The initial reaction from the top EU leadership in Brussels was more measured and warned against the consequences to the single currency.

"You can see what is happening to sterling on the markets. I don't want the same thing to happen to the euro," said Martin Schulz, president of the EU parliament.

The value of the British pound has now slumped to its lowest level in over three decades with rating agency S&P threatening to strip the UK of its AAA credit rating.

Schulz said the EU parliament would respect the UK’s decision to leave.

"Now is the time for us to behave seriously and responsibly. David Cameron has his responsibilities for his country, we have our responsibilities for the future of the EU," he said.

But Manfred Weber, who leads the EU parliament's largest political group, the centre-right EPP, said the UK would enjoy no special treatment.

"Exit negotiations should be concluded within 2 years max. There cannot be any special treatment. Leave means leave," he noted in a tweet.

Lithuania's president Dalia Grybauskaite, for her part, summarised her view of the situation ahead in a tweet: "#Brexit: respect, regret, re-engage".

In Budapest, Hungarian PM Viktor Orban said that "the biggest lesson" from the referendum outcome was that "Brussels must hear the voice of the people".

The far-right in the Netherlands and in France, for their part, are hailing the exit as a victory.

Both Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, and Marine Le Pen, of France's National Front, want to trigger similar referendums.

UK votes to leave EU, causes shockwaves

Britons vote to leave the EU by 51.9 percent. Pound is at its lowest since 1985. Scotland and Northern Ireland at odds with England and Wales.

Pound plunges after UK result, but no 'panic'

"We are not in panic mode”, Germany's Commerzbank said. Bank of England chief said "we were well-prepared for this" and that British banks could weather the storm.


No precedents for post-Brexit Irish border

Glib comparisons with the US-Canada border, or municipal boundaries within London, do not stand up to scrutiny - or the reality of an internal Irish border with 275 crossing points in a land beset by 30 years of armed conflict.

News in Brief

  1. Separatist activist renounces Catalonia leadership candidacy
  2. EU puts conditions on Bayer-Monsanto merger
  3. Hard Brexit would hit poorer Irish households hardest
  4. Finland hosts secretive North Korean talks
  5. EU to unveil 3% tax on digital giants
  6. German elected S&D leader in European Parliament
  7. Germany: nearly €350m child benefit goes abroad
  8. Norway's far-right doubles support as minister resigns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery
  2. Judicial reforms 'restore balance', Poland tells EU
  3. Whistleblower fears for life as US arrests Malta bank chair
  4. Behind the scenes at Monday's EU talks on Russia
  5. US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions
  6. EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints
  7. Five east European states prevent new CAP consensus
  8. EU to probe UK 'election-rigging' firm