June 24, 2016
BRUSSELS (AFP) - After Britain voted to leave the European Union, according to national media, the next hours, days and weeks will be crucial for the future of the bloc.
Here are the next steps after "Brexit":
SAVE THE MARKETS
With the stability of the global economy at risk, early Friday the European Central Bank is widely expected to make a statement to reassure markets.
TOP EU OFFICIALS REACT
The EU's top officials meet in Brussels at 0830 GMT. EU President Donald Tusk, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, European Parliament head Martin Schulz and Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country holds the six-month EU presidency, are expected to make a statement and address the press at around 1000 GMT.
MINISTERS TACKLE BREXIT
The EU's 28 European Affairs Ministers meet in Luxembourg to lay the groundwork for Brexit talks at the EU summit on June 28-29. Talks start at 1230 GMT.
Foreign ministers from the EU's six founding countries -- France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg -- are expected to meet on Saturday in Berlin, according to European sources.
French President Francois Hollande will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel next week to discuss "European initiatives", expected on Monday.
The Merkel Hollande meet-up could be the occasion to announce plans for a long-rumoured Franco-German initiative on a better integrated defense and security strategy for Europe. The leaders intend to use the plan to shore-up doubts on the EU project unleashed by the British vote campaign.
On Monday the European Commission's top officials, who are nominated by the EU's 28 member states, begin mapping out the long road to an official Brexit at an extraoridiary meeting in Brussels.
-- MEPs have called for an extraordinary session of European Parliament to be held on Monday also in Brussels in the case of a Brexit vote.
THE 'BREXIT' SUMMIT
The 28 EU leaders -- still including British Prime Minister David Cameron -- meet on June 28 and 29 in Brussels to digest and debate the results of the Thursday Leave vote. It was originally due to be held on June 23 but was postponed after the British referendum date was announced.
On July 1st, the Netherlands hands over the EU's six-month rotating presidency to the relatively inexperienced Slovakia, which now must lead the negotiations towards Brexit. Britain had been due to take the helm at the end of 2017 but will now give that up.
EU civil servants delay summer holidays to begin the painstaking legal work to bring about Brexit. If confirmed, the process to break the UK away from Europe will take at least two years.
Britons turned out in high numbers to vote on their future in the European Union, with 72.2 percent of registered voters casting their ballots in Thursday's referendum, the Electoral Commission said.
"Counting Officers have verified that a total of 33,568,184 ballot papers will be included in the count for the referendum. Based on a confirmed electorate of 46,500,001, turnout at the referendum was 72.2 percent," the watchdog said.