Tuesday

19th Jun 2018

British PM asserts her role in EU 'nest of doves'

  • May: "The UK is leaving the EU but we will continue to play a full role until we leave." (Photo: Consilium)

At her first EU summit on Thursday (20 October), British prime minister Theresa May let other leaders know that she was not there only to wait until Brexit formally happens but said nothing about the upcoming process.

Although she hinted several times that she would seek a so-called "hard Brexit", few EU colleagues wanted to cross swords with her before the negotiations have started.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

Her host in Brussels, European Council president Donald Tusk set a friendly tone before the summit started, saying that she was not entering a lion's den but a "nest of doves."

"She'll be absolutely safe with us. And I hope that she will also realise that the European Union is simply the best company in the world," he said.

Upon her arrival, May said she had come "with a clear message. The UK is leaving the EU but we will continue to play a full role until we leave."

She tried to prove it by first calling on the EU to "show a robust and united stance in the face of Russian aggression" in Syria.

Then, early in the summit, after Slovak prime minister Robert Fico gave an update about work on the roadmap for EU reforms agreed at the Bratislava summit on16 September, May took her colleagues by surprise.

She said that she "recognises and understands" the desire of the 27 other leaders to meet without her, as they did in the Slovak capital to discuss the future of the EU without the UK. But she insisted that when decisions will be taken that could affect all 28 member states, the UK should be there.

Tusk told journalists after the meeting: "Our regular meetings will be of course with 28 member states".



He added that after the UK started its exit negotiations, other leaders would have a "right and also [a] legal obligation to meet at 27 to discuss [their] strategy."

"There is nothing extraordinary," he said, adding that he "would have preferred the 28 member states' format not only for the next months but also for the next years and decades."

'Constructive spirit'

Diplomats said May was active during the summit discussions on migration, Russia, and Syria.

Then, shortly after midnight, she gave a quick update on her government's position on the upcoming Brexit negotiations.

She spoke only five minutes to confirm that she would trigger article 50, the exit procedure, before the end of March

"Nothing revolutionary," one official said.

"She said she will enter the discussion with the most constructive spirit. We'll see," French president Francois Hollande said.

Before the meeting, he had warned that if May wanted a "hard Brexit, negotiations will be hard."

German chancellor Angela Merkel said that May's message was "OK", adding that it was "a good basis for the upcoming work together", even if the Brexit talks will be "a difficult path".

May: Brexit is 'quiet revolution'

The British prime minister concluded the Tory party conference in the UK by pledging to regain control of immigration and by taking a swipe at pro-EU elites.

May struggles to contain Brexit angst

Government under fire from Scotland and from opposition MPs for "chaotic" Brexit preparations, despite May's new committee and pledge on parliament debates.

High noon for British PM on Brexit

British MPs are voting on a Brexit bill that could keep the UK in the EU and destabilise the government, as the clock ticks to the exit date.

EU tells UK to stop with Brexit 'fantasies'

After the latest round of Brexit talks, a senior EU official sounded the alarm bell: progress on the key Irish border issue remains elusive, while the London government is chasing pipe dreams.

Visual Data

Mediterranean towns ready for EU-sponsored free wifi

The European Union's fund for free wireless internet connection hotspots is most popular in Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Malta, Slovenia and Romania. Check if your municipality pre-registered.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  3. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us