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Friday, 24 June 2016
EU referendum: Shocked members urge solidarity and change
Shocked EU leaders have called for stability and solidarity - but also for change and reform - after the UK voted to leave the organisation.
President of the European Council Donald Tusk said the remaining 27 members were determined to stay united.
But leaders like Italian PM Matteo Renzi said the EU had to change and become "more human and more just".
The UK voted by 52% to 48% to leave the EU after 43 years. David Cameron has announced he will step down as PM.
Global stock markets fell heavily on the news and the value of the pound has also fallen dramatically.
The European parliament has called a special session for next Tuesday to assess the vote, while foreign ministers of the six founding nations of the EU - Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg, will meet in Berlin on Saturday.
Some leaders of EU member states, such as France's Francois Hollande, held their own crisis talks on Friday.
European parliament president Martin Schulz, president of the European Council Donald Tusk, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and Dutch PM Mark Rutte also went into emergency talks.
Alarm bells - BBC Europe editor, Katya Adler
The EU worries Brexit could reverse 70 years of European integration.
In all my years watching European politics, I have never seen such a widespread sense of Euroscepticism.
Plenty of Europeans looked on with envy as Britain cast its In/Out vote. Many of the complaints about the EU raised by the Leave campaign resonated with voters across the continent.
Across Europe leading Eurosceptic politicians queued up this morning to crow about the UK referendum result.
But the mood in Brussels is deeply gloomy. The Brexit vote sends screaming alarm bells, warning that the EU in its current form isn't working.
Some EU politicians, including Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, have expressed fears of a domino effect from Brexit that could threaten the whole organisation.
Reacting to the vote, UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said "the EU is dying".
But Mr Tusk said this was "not a moment for hysterical reactions".
He said he was "determined to keep our unity as 27" members.
Many EU leaders expressed shock and dismay at the vote. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Friday was "a sad day for Europe and for the United Kingdom", while Polish counterpart Witold Waszczykowski called it "bad news for Europe, bad news for Poland".
But many also urged solidarity.
Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas said: "We must... work hard so that we do not lose the unity of the European Union."
Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said "the European project remains valid to defend the values that mark our common identity".
Danish PM Lars Loekke Rasmussen stressed his country "belongs to the European Union".
Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka said: "Despite the disappointment many of us feel... we must realise that this is not the end of the world and it's absolutely not the end of the EU."
But he also echoed the voices of many in calling for change, saying: "Europe must be more operational, flexible, less bureaucratic and much more perceptive to the diversity that its member states represent."
Matteo Renzi tweeted: "We have to change it to make it more human and more just, but Europe is our home, it's our future."
Meanwhile, German MEP Manfred Weber, from the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, insisted on a tough line for the UK: "There cannot be any special treatment for the United Kingdom. Leave means leave. The times of cherry-picking are over."
As part of his attempts to win a Remain vote, Mr Cameron agreed a deal with the EU in February to protect London's financial markets, curb immigration and opt out of closer union.