France and Germany should “take the initiative” after British voters decided their country should quit the EU, French President Francois Hollande said on Sunday.
“A friendly country, an allied country with whom we have so many ties has just decided to leave our union, the European Union, which we believed to be indestructible and indissoluble,” Hollande said at a World War II commemoration.
“It is now the responsibility of France and Germany to take the initiative, because we have shown that from unhappiness, horror and war, we (two) were able to forge a strong friendship,” said Hollande, referring to the post-war forces behind the founding of the EU.
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“If we are separated, we run the risk of being disunited, divided and quarrelling,” Hollande warned.
But “if we are together, we can not only win peace, but also the respect of the citizens of this fine union called Europe.”
Prime Minister Manuel Valls also weighed in, saying the Brexit vote “clarifies the debate” and would allow “a recast, rebuilt Europe”.
He also addressed the issue of so-called “posted workers” sent from one EU nation to another to work temporarily, and who have sparked controversy in France.
The workers are subject to their home country’s laws, raising concerns foreign service providers with looser labour rules can undercut locals.
Valls, who spoke before some 200 Socialist activists in northern France, called for a “minimum wage and very clear rules on the posting of workers”.
Hollande was speaking at the inauguration of a memorial at Dun-les-Places, a village in central-eastern France where Nazi troops torched homes and massacred 27 inhabitants in June 1944.