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EU agrees on approach to Brexit talks

European Union leaders agreed on their plan for Brexit negotiations, pledging to move swiftly and to ensure Britain does not 'cherry pick a sweet deal'

16 December 2016, 8:04am
In her brief appearance at the EU summit, UK Prime Minister Theresa May did not mention Brexit, focusing instead on Syria
In her brief appearance at the EU summit, UK Prime Minister Theresa May did not mention Brexit, focusing instead on Syria
European Union leaders agreed on their plan for Brexit negotiations on Thursday, pledging to move swiftly and stick together to ensure Britain does not "cherry pick a sweet deal that might inspire others to unstitch the bloc", Reuters news agency reported.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May left before the other 27 leaders met briefly to formalise their plan for how to run Brexit talks. She focused instead on Syria and a pledge to provide a further 20 million pounds of support for the most vulnerable fleeing Aleppo.

Diplomats reportedly said May had assured her European partners that she would launch the two-year process by the end of March despite how London judges rule in a constitutional court case that some say might jeopardise her timetable.

"It's right that the other leaders prepare for those negotiations as we have been preparing," May told reporters.

The 27 member states issued a statement saying they were "determined to see the Union succeed", and were ready to negotiate quickly to "tackle the uncertainties" raised by the prospect of Brexit, but that "any agreement will have to be based on a balance of rights and obligations".

May had sought to reinforce her message that, while still a member, Britain would play a full part in discussions on EU issues and keen to set a conciliatory tone for a "smooth" exit, welcoming the meeting of the other EU leaders without her.

The EU negotiating plan confirmed that a special set of institutions would be set up, mirroring existing EU forums but excluding Britain. Ministerial councils and councils of envoys would meet to keep national governments in overall control of negotiations led by French former minister Michel Barnier.