BRUSSELS, Belgium – After Britain voted to leave the European Union, the next hours, days and weeks will be crucial for the future of the bloc.
Here are the next steps after "Brexit":
Foreign ministers from the EU's six founding countries – France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg – will meet in Berlin on Saturday.
Ambassadors from the 28 member states are set to meet in Brussels on Sunday to prepare for next week's European Summit.
THE BIG FOUR
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will host French President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and EU President Donald Tusk in Berlin on Monday.
They are set to discuss plans for a long-rumoured Franco-German initiative on reforms for the EU to dispel doubts on the project in the wake of Brexit, and a better integrated defence and security strategy for Europe.
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 extraordinary meeting in Brussels.
MEPs have also called for an extraordinary session of the European Parliament to be held in Brussels on Monday in the case of a Brexit vote.
THE 'BREXIT' SUMMIT
The 28 EU leaders – still including British Prime Minister David Cameron, who says he will resign in October – meet on June 28 and 29 in Brussels to digest and debate the results of Thursday's Leave vote.
It was originally due to be held on June 23 but was postponed after the British referendum date was announced.
Cameron has said he will leave it to his successor to trigger Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty, officially notifying EU leaders of Britain's intention to leave. But the EU wants Britain to do it immediately.
On July 1, 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.
The official British divorce from Europe would take at least two years. But Tusk has warned that the whole process of negotiating trade and immigration deals with a non-EU Britain could take seven years in all. – Rappler.com