By Gabriela Baczynska
LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) – As Britain’s shock decision to leave the party broke on the European Union on Friday, EU ministers met as planned in Luxembourg, where they reacted to the news but quickly moved on to what the bloc does best — sticking to the routine.
“No panic,” a senior diplomat told Reuters, describing the mood around the conference table. “Then the usual points, as scheduled.”
Echoing government leaders and the heads of EU institutions, the foreign and EU affairs ministers called in chorus for a quick and orderly divorce from Britain.
“Let there not be a vacuum. Europe has to continue,” Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders, who chaired the sitting of the bloc’s generally humdrum General Affairs Council, told reporters.
Those statements out of the way, as financial markets gyrated and the world agonized about Europe’s postwar integration going into reverse, ministers kept calm and carried on in the corridors of the building in Luxembourg, where they meet periodically away from Brussels.
They consulted on the bloc’s legislative program for 2017 and an agenda item on increasing transparency in EU lawmaking.
“Nothing changes right away, so even this is not enough of a direct shock to trigger an immediate strong reaction,” another diplomat said of the ministers’ Brexit discussion over lunch.
Others suggested the tendency of the “Brussels bubble” to push knotty problems to one side was part of the reason voters in Britain had become disillusioned with the Union – a stance shared by many elsewhere.
“So, they express their views about the diminishing geopolitical role of the EU without Britain,” one envoy said. “And then they go back to their agenda.”
(Editing by Alastair Macdonald and John Stonestreet)