The President of the European Council Donald Tusk has said the EU is ready to start the divorce from the UK today.
It comes as the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, is due to speak with European leaders at an emergency summit in Brussels this evening.
The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, is being urged to press the serious impact that a Brexit will have on Ireland - in a bid to protect our free trade and flow of people - at the gathering.
It is expected David Cameron will resist pressure to start the leave negotiations immediately.
But Donald Tusk insists patience is needed for it to be done properly: “While respecting the will of the UK voters, we also have to respect our treaties.
“According to them it is the British Government which initiates the process of exit from the EU.”
British prime minister David Cameron has said he will be formally notifying the other leaders of the result in the UK referendum.
But he insists the divorce process will not be rushed, saying he wants the exit process to be "as constructive as possible": “While we’re leaving the European Union we must not be turning our backs on Europe.
“These countries are our neighbours, our friends, our allies, our partners and I very much hope that we will strive for the closest possible relationship, in terms of trade and cooperation and security that is good for us and good for them.
“And that is the spirit in which the discussions I think will be held today.”