BRUSSELS European Union officials and diplomats launched a round of confidential discussions this week to prepare a coordinated response to a possible British vote to leave the bloc next month, EU sources told Reuters on Wednesday.
Senior diplomats from founding powers Germany and France, as well as several other countries, met on Monday for talks chaired by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's chief of staff, Martin Selmayr, several sources said.
One source with direct knowledge of Monday's discussion said it was intended to be followed by others on specific topics.
Another said the aim was not to prepare the unprecedented negotiations that will be needed to unpick 43 years of British EU membership but to coordinate what kind of first response, especially what communication strategy, would be needed in the hours and days after a Leave vote in the June 23 referendum.
"The idea is to have something prepared, not leave it for the day after June 23," a third source said.
Among countries present at the meeting was Slovakia, which takes over the EU's rotating presidency in July, sources said.
A spokesman for the Commission, as well as French and German representatives, declined to comment. The Commission spokesman stressed that the EU executive was preparing for Britain to maintain its membership of the 28-nation bloc.
"We don't have a Plan B," Alexander Winterstein said.
(Additional reporting by Jan Strupczewski and Alastair Macdonald; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Catherine Evans)
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Updated Date: May 26, 2016 00:00 AM