EU 27 draft statement to Britain: Swift procedures when you are ready

29 June 2016
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The EU 27 members who are meeting Wednesday to discuss their next steps regarding the exit of Britain from the EU have reached a draft statement calling on the UK to invoke article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty as soon as possible, in order to avoid prolonged negotiations.

The statement says the departure should take place in “an orderly fashion” and that any future deal must balance “rights and obligations”.

The draft statement notes that it is up to Britain to notify the EU of its intention to withdraw, but adds ‘as soon as it is ready to do so’ – a clear sign that EU leaders have accepted the UK government’s position that exit procedures cannot be triggered until a new prime minister is in place. But, the draft adds: ‘It would be preferable to do this quickly so as to avoid entering into a prolonged period of uncertainty’.

The leaders will also reiterate that there can be ‘no negotiations of any kind’ before notification has taken place.
‘In the future, we hope to have the UK as a close partner of the EU and we look forward to the UK stating its intentions in this respect’, the draft will say.

The draft continues: ‘Any agreement, which will be concluded with the UK as a third country, will have to be based on a balance of rights and obligations’.

This refers to access to the single market, which EU leaders are adamant will only be allowed if the UK accepts freedom of movement, but Boris Johnson and other leading Leave campaigners continue to claim that Britain will be able to negotiate a deal that gives full single market access while still allowing the UK to restrict EU migration.
It goes on to say that the referendum creates a new situation for the EU, but that the remaining member states are ‘determined to remain united and work in the framework of the EU to deal with the challenges of the 21st century, and find solutions in the interest of our nations and peoples’.

While underlining that the EU is a ‘historic achievement of peace, prosperity and and security’, the draft makes it clear the leaders are ready to reform to counter growing discontent across Europe.

‘At the same time many people express dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs, be it at the European or national level. Europeans expect us to do better when it comes to providing security, prosperity and hope for a better future. We need to deliver on this, not least in the interest of the young’, the draft states.

The leaders will convene again at an informal meeting in September in Bratislava, Slovakia, as the statement says.

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