Merkel warns EU against kneejerk reaction to Brexit

Angela Merkel says Britain's decision to leave the EU is a "blow" to Europe (AFP Photo/John Macdougall)

Berlin (AFP) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday warned EU member states against drawing hasty conclusions about Britain's decision to quit the bloc, as that risked further splitting Europe.

"We take note of the British people's decision with regret. There is no doubt that this is a blow to Europe and to the European unification process," she said.

But "what the consequences of this would be... would depend on whether we -- the other 27 member states of the EU -- prove to be willing and able to not draw quick and simple conclusions from the referendum in Great Britain, which would only further divide Europe," said Merkel.

Member states should "calmly and prudently analyse and evaluate the situation, before making the right decisions together," said Merkel, who will host talks with French President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and European Council president Donald Tusk in Berlin on Monday.

Recalling the founding aim of the EU, Merkel urged Europeans to "never forget that the idea of European unity was an idea of peace."

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier admitted that "we don't have an answer to all the questions that have arisen from" the vote.

But "what the people expect from us is that they want to see that the EU is in a position to solve problems, to help people".

"We must concentrate on finding common European solutions in areas which are lacking. Common European answers on the refugee crisis, do more in terms of employment and growth while ensuring that the EU also finds joint answers to the changing security situation," he said.