BRUSSELS, March 29 (Xinhua) — European Council President Donald Tusk announced on Wednesday that the European Union (EU) will unveil its Brexit guidelines on Friday.
“On Friday I will share a proposal of the negotiating guidelines with the member states, to be adopted by the European Council on April 29, ” he said at a press conference after receiving the Brexit letter from British Ambassador to the EU Tim Barrow.
Underling that “most Europeans, including almost half the British voters wish that we would stay together, not drift apart,” Tusk said “there’s no reason to pretend that this is a happy day, neither in Brussels, nor in London.”
However, he insisted that “Brexit has made us, the community of 27, more determined and more united than before.”
Describing the forthcoming Brexit negotiations as “damage control,” Tusk said the EU’s goal is to minimize the costs for EU citizens, businesses and member states.
“We will do everything in our power – and we have all the tools – to achieve this goal. And what we should stress today is that, as for now, nothing has changed: until the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, EU law will continue to apply to – and within – the UK, ” he said.
Coinciding with Tusk’s statement to the press, the European Council issued a statement voicing its “regret” to the Britain’s notification letter to leave the bloc,
“We regret that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union, but we are ready for the process that we now will have to follow,” said the statement.
“For the European Union, the first step will now be the adoption of guidelines for the negotiations by the European Council,” said the statement, adding that these guidelines will set out the overall positions and principles in light of which the European Commission will negotiate with Britain.
“We will approach these talks constructively and strive to find an agreement. In the future, we hope to have the United Kingdom as a close partner,” the statement added.
British ambassador to the EU on Wednesday handed the Brexit notification letter to Donald Tusk, triggering the two-year countdown to Britain’s exit of the bloc after 44 years of membership.
“After nine months the UK has delivered. #Brexit,” Tusk tweeted, hard on the heels of receiving the Brexit letter.
British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday signed the Article 50 notification letter, nine months after Britain voted to quit the EU by a narrow margin in a June referendum.
By triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, Britain and the EU is expected to have a two-year process in which the terms of exit will be negotiated. Unless both sides agree to extend the deadline for talks, Britain will leave on March 2019.
Article 50 refers to the formal procedure by which an EU member state notifies the European Council that it intends to leave the bloc.