Hollande says Brexit vote "tough test" for Europe

Hollande says Brexit vote "tough test" for Europe

Francois Hollande. (REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer)

The British vote is a tough test for Europe."
Paris (ANTARA News) - French President Francois Hollande said the Britains Brexit vote seriously challenged the European Union, adding that he would take initiatives to jolt the bloc back on track.

Hollande said the EU must focus on key priorities like security and defense, border protection and job creation as well as reinforcing the euro zone, while leaving member states to handle what falls to them.

"The British vote is a tough test for Europe," Hollande said in a televised address, adding that he would travel to Berlin on Monday to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and possibly Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

The leader of the euro zones second-largest economy said negotiations over Britains exit must be swift. He said he regretted but respected the British referendums outcome.

Hollande will also meet with the leaders of Frances main political parties.

Hollandes prime minister, Manuel Valls, said it was time to reinvent Europe or risk the blocs fragmentation. Valls said the vote revealed a malaise within Europe that had been ignored for too long.

"Its an explosive shock. At stake is the break up pure and simple of the union," Valls said in a statement. "Now is the time to invent another Europe."