BERLIN — Lorraine Jacobs-Hyde is glad she applied for a German passport before the Brexit vote last week.
“I’ve put in all my papers, and I’m waiting for it,” said the British housewife who has lived in Germany for 15 years. “Things might change being a British citizen here. I’ll start needing visas.”
A native of Brighton on England’s southern coast, Ms. Jacobs-Hyde and her German husband have been raising their two children in Germany. Neither of her children has passports for the United Kingdom. She never imagined until recently that they would need them. Now, given the stunning vote that will soon take her native country out of the European Union, she is not sure.
“I believe in the EU,” she said. “I want to be in a country and be a citizen of a country that’s in the EU.”
Ms. Jacobs-Hyde is one of millions of Britons and other Europeans who are stumbling through the practicalities arising from the United Kingdom’s momentous vote Thursday, one that took many by surprise. Foreign officials, business leaders and ordinary folks are parsing out how to prepare themselves for the days ahead as Britain extricates itself from the world’s largest economic and political bloc. Decades worth of legal, economic, cultural and social relationships, regulations and traditions need revisions.
In Berlin on Saturday, European foreign ministers met for the first time to discuss to how to handle Brexit. They called for a quick British departure from the EU to end the period of uncertainty. Still, German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck a more conciliatory note.
“There is no need to be particularly nasty in any way in the negotiations,” she said. “They must be conducted properly.”
The foreign ministers in Berlin also acknowledged that Brexit required them to do some soul-searching over the future of what will be a 27-member bloc.
“We are aware that discontent with the functioning of the EU as it is today is manifest in parts of our societies,” foreign ministers from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Luxembourg said in a statement in Berlin. “We take this very seriously and are determined to make the EU work better for all our citizens.”
Vincenzo Scarpetta, a political analyst at the British think tank Open Europe, said Ms. Merkel and her fellow leaders would likely tackle that problem next year after laying down a preliminary schedule for handling Brexit.
One more complication, as if any more were needed: The chancellor and French President Francois Hollande face tough re-election campaigns next year, he said. They might not be around to reshape the European Union.
“Once the French and German general elections are out of the way next year, the discussion of treaty change will return, giving the opportunity to reform,” said Mr. Scarpetta.
Some issues are clearly thornier and more pressing than others.
Francois Villeroy de Galhau, a member of the European Central Bank’s governing council, said that unless the U.K. adopts a relationship with the EU that is reminiscent of Norway’s, London likely will lose its place as the continent’s financial center, a crippling blow to the British economy.
Norway, while not in the EU, pays EU fees and abides by EU rules, including granting admittance to East European immigrants looking for jobs, as if it were a full-fledged member.
“It would be a bit paradoxical to leave the EU and apply all EU rules, but that is one solution if Britain wants to keep access to the single market,” Mr. Villeroy de Galhau told a French radio station Saturday.
Asked about his view of the Brexit, Ian Howard, a 22-year-old Londoner and tax consultant at Ernst & Young, said economic fears were at the top of his list of concerns.
“In a word: regret,” he said. “I’m scared for our future generations.”
Other Brexiters also regretted their Leave votes: A woman told the United Kingdom’s ITV broadcaster that even though she voted for Brexit, she is “very disappointed” by the result now that “reality” has sunk in. If she had another chance, she said, she would change her vote.
Still, other Brexit supporters countered that what they predict will be short-term economic dislocation would not force them to compromise the spirit of their votes.
London might lose business, but they anticipated an economic revival in regions that they say have withered under the open markets and open borders demanded from Brussels.
“Our fishing industry was decimated when we entered agreements with the EU on our fishing grounds,” said Roger Tattersall, assistant director for Vote Leave in Yorkshire. “In the industrial cities of the north, we’ve seen massive changes in demographics and employment patterns. Far from protecting workers’ rights, we’ve seen the erosion of pay and conditions over the years, and a lot of that is down to the free movement of people.”
That sentiment is why Britain opted for Brexit, said Ms. Jacobs-Hyde. She hoped to receive her German passport soon so she could continue with her life unchanged. But in the few days since the Brexit vote, she came to accept her country’s decision.
“They don’t want to be bossed around, or they have this feeling that, ‘We don’t want to be told what to do,’” she said. “I think that is so British.”