EU Finance Chiefs Call for Accelerated Brexit With May Ascent

  • Britain needs to trigger Article 50 to start exit from bloc
  • Prime minister takes post two months earlier than anticipated

Here's How to Avoid Another Brexit

European Union finance chiefs urged the U.K. to speed up its exit from the bloc after the quick selection of Theresa May as prime minister, warning that the uncertainty of drawing out the process impacts all sides.

“We must not waste time -- the conservative party went fast” in getting May in position, EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday. The acceleration of getting May into the post should also speed up the Brexit process, he said.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem on July 12.

Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

May is set to become prime minister Wednesday -- almost two months earlier than initially anticipated after her last remaining rival unexpectedly withdrew. May, who was a low-key campaigner for staying in the EU before the June 23 referendum, has said she favored waiting until 2017 to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which starts the two-year process for withdrawing.

That stance won’t find favor with EU finance ministers who on Tuesday said the U.K. should hurry up.

“You can only start negotiating if they start the procedure,” said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Netherlands’ finance chief. “And I think it’s mainly in the British interest to get clarity soon, so don’t postpone the negotiations endlessly.”

His Austrian counterpart agreed.

"We need stability, we need calm,” Hans Joerg Schelling said. “We don’t need uncertainty on economic growth. The recovery is a fragile plant and we need to protect it. The uncertainty regarding growth will end once we have a new accord,” he said. “If they want to leave, they should do it quickly.”

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