Germany's leader has urged Britain to file a formal request to leave the European Union soon, even though the member states are prepared to give the U.K. time to decide its future ties with the bloc.

Chancellor Angela Merkel says the EU is otherwise busy and "can bide the time" that Britain needs "to decide for its part what relationship it wants to have with the European Union."

But she cautioned that until Britain requests to start EU exit talks, "we can't reply and say what kind of relationship we envisage with Great Britain, (which is) the only thing we can negotiate."

Merkel spoke Wednesday after talks with Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas — part of her European tour ahead of an EU summit in Bratislava, Slovakia, next month.