By Alastair Macdonald and Paul Taylor BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Europe's most ardent federalists, including the man now pulling the strings in the European Commission, tried to kill off the European Union's exit clause or make it unworkable when it was first proposed in 2003. Now Britain, having voted to quit the EU in a landmark referendum, is trying for tactical reasons to avoid triggering that very procedure, crafted by a veteran British diplomat, that leads to automatic withdrawal after two years. The history of the exit clause that became Article 50 of the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon is full of such ironies.
Belgium's prime minister on Tuesday urged British companies wanting to continue trading with the European Union to move to Belgium after the British vote to quit the bloc. "I believe that 20 percent of the British companies are ready to move out of the country," Charles Michel told Belgian state broadcaster Radio 1. "If they do, I would prefer if they came to Belgium, Flanders, Wallonia or Brussels and not, for example, the Netherlands," Michel said.
BERLIN (Reuters) - A prolonged stalemate over how to deal with Britain's historic vote to leave the European Union would be costly, a German foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday. He warned of the risks of an impasse "because uncertainty has a price in political, economic and financial terms," said the spokesman, adding that some people think those in Britain who campaigned for a Brexit do not now seem to have a clear plan. (Reporting by Madeline Chambers and Michelle Martin)