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Germany Gains New Leverage After U.K. Votes To Leave EU

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Many Europeans were caught off guard by the Brexit results and lashed out at the British. Not German Chancellor Angela Merkel. As NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports from Berlin, Merkel is using her considerable leverage in the EU to foster new alliances and keep the rest of the 27 members together.

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: Dozens of Germans who took to the airwaves today said if the U.K. wants to leave the EU, then good riddance. One was politician Thomas Oppermann.

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THOMAS OPPERMANN: (Speaking German).

NELSON: The German parliament member told local n-TV, "I say out is out. Their vote has consequences, and I think we should split up quickly and cleanly."

Similar unfriendly remarks emanated from Brussels where several EU officials called on London to expedite the formal separation. Then Chancellor Angela Merkel stepped in.

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ANGELA MERKEL: (Speaking German).

NELSON: At a news conference here, she didn't speak about deadlines or departures. She said it's important for the EU to keep good relations with the United Kingdom, a top world economy and Western Europe's leading military power.

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MERKEL: (Speaking German).

NELSON: Merkel also warned more countries could end up leaving the bloc if their governments fail to show voters that being in the European Union improves their lives. So Merkel announced a mini EU-summit here on Monday to figure out how best to keep the bloc together, invited other French and EU presidents and the Italian prime minister. Daniela Schwarzer of the German Marshall Fund says this will help keep Germany from looking as if it's strong-arming the bloc. Germany, she says, doesn't want to have an influence on the way the EU develops.

DANIELA SCHWARZER: But it doesn't seek a concentration of power. It much rather works together with partners than running the show alone.

NELSON: But whether Merkel will be able to forge a consensus on the issues that drove the U.K. out is unclear. Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Berlin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.