European Union and Britain on Monday appeared to be heading for an impasse over the bloc's summit slated for Tuesday to discuss UK's vote to leave, a report by the Guardian has said.
With Europe's leaders divided over how to negotiate Britain's exit -- Brexit -- and London seemingly unwilling to initiate formal talks on leaving, an EU source said lawyers had decided that a member state could not be forced to launch the process.
A senior EU official said that, by the same token, Brussels could refuse overtures for even informal talks before the exit process is officially started -- a course that prominent Brexit leaders, including former London Mayor Boris Johnson, want to pursue.
"As long there is no notification, there will not be any negotiations," the official said.
Brussels has given up hope that Britain could be bounced into triggering article 50 -- the untested procedure that governs how a member state leaves the bloc -- at the upcoming summit.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has urged both Britain and the EU to "minimise disruption" by negotiating the divorce responsibly.
President of the EU parliament Martin Schulz led the call for formal exit talks.
"We expect the British government to deliver now," he told Germany's Bild am Sonntag daily.
"The summit on Tuesday is the appropriate moment to do so."