May Must End Brexit Uncertainty, Belgian Foreign Minister Says

  • Reynders says waiting for Article 50 risks economic problems
  • Sweden says U.K. could be forced out without deal: newspaper

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May must act soon to prevent the uncertainty over Britain’s European Union departure from stoking greater economic anxiety, Belgium’s foreign minister said.

“The discussions need to start as quickly as possible because above all it’s uncertainty that’s the source of economic difficulties,” Didier Reynders told reporters Saturday on his way into a meeting with his 27 EU counterparts in Bratislava, Slovakia. “It’s obvious that Brexit will have an impact; at the moment as far as Belgium is concerned the impact has been fairly limited and I hope we will be able to keep it that way.”

While May has pledged that she won’t try to keep Britain in the EU against the wishes of the electorate, 10 weeks after the British referendum the government hasn’t decided what sort of relationship it wants with the rest of the bloc. Two years of formal talks won’t start until May invokes Article 50 of the bloc’s Lisbon Treaty.

At the end of the two years, the U.K. could be forced to leave the EU even if the two sides haven’t reached an agreement, Sweden’s EU Minister Ann Linde said in an interview with Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter published Saturday.

“It’s enough if one country for some reason comes into conflict with Britain, and we don’t have unity -- then the membership will cease without an agreement,” Linde said. “It puts enormous pressure on Britain, and the other 27, to conduct these discussions in a constructive spirit, and that’s not easy.”

Brexit isn’t on the agenda for the EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Bratislava. The group, including U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, were scheduled to start the second day of talks by discussing Turkey’s response to July’s botched coup and on greater counter-terrorism cooperation.

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