The German Chancellor has issued a desperate plea for the remaining 27 member states to pull together as the beleaguered Brussels bloc comes to terms with the June 23 referendum.
Mrs Merkel said: “First of all, we’re waiting for the UK to trigger its exit from the European Union.
“That’s altogether a deep cut for the European Union, but we met as 27 member states in Bratislava [a previous European summit] and said that we want to work more intensively with one another.”
She also confirmed there would be no pre-negotiations with Britain before Theresa May invokes Article 50, which the Prime Minister has promised to do before March 2017.
But there are fears the remaining EU nations may find a way to pull together to prevent Britain “cherry picking” prime economic deals with individual member states once the Brexit wheels roll into motion.
EU nations fear economic offers from Britain could set countries against each other in a way that could potentially lead to the total destruction of the Union.
One senior EU official said the 27 remaining nations look set to present Mrs May’s diplomatic team with a united front.
The source said: “There”s a surprising degree of consensus.
“No one wants to give the Brits an opening.”
The member states are keen to show Britain, and other countries tempted to leave the Brussels club, that the benefits of the common market outweigh the positives of independence.
They are also hoping to show those economic benefits would not be available to those unwilling to accept the EU’s free migration terms.
The EU source added: “What we to do is anticipate what May will ask for and prepare for it, from now.”
But any hopes of complete unity could prove to be far fetched, as deep divisions opened up during the recent Bratislava summit.
Donald Tusk was forced to step in to plead for cohesion as Luxembourg’s foreign minister called for Hungary to be thrown out of the Union for reportedly treating asylum seekers “worse than wild animals”.
Hungary then shot back with a stinging criticism of Luxembourg’s tax-haven status.
Mr Tusk said: “We have to assure our citizens that we have learned the lesson from Brexit and we are able to bring back stability and a sense of security and effective protection.”