Sunday

18th Feb 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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Barnier warns UK Brexit transition period 'not a given'

After one of the tensest week so far in Brexit talks, 'substantial' disagreements remain between the UK and the EU over transition, with Michel Barnier insisting London needs to decide on the future relationship and Ireland for Brexit to happen.

Barnier warns UK Brexit transition period 'not a given'

After one of the tensest week so far in Brexit talks, 'substantial' disagreements remain between the UK and the EU over transition, with Michel Barnier insisting London needs to decide on the future relationship and Ireland for Brexit to happen.

UK slams EU's 'bad faith' on Brexit transition

Brexit secretary David Davis complained that releasing a document proposing sanctions if the UK did not respect the deal with the EU was "discourteous", in the most bad-tempered exchange of words so far between London and Brussels.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel: Nord Stream 2 pipeline poses 'no danger'
  2. Spanish king in Barcelona next week
  3. Turkey jails journalists for life
  4. Make budget cuts in farm and regional funds, the Dutch say
  5. UN: Hungary's anti-migration bill is 'assault on human rights'
  6. Journalist Deniz Yucel freed in Turkey
  7. New organic farming bill not ready until late spring
  8. Commissioner: Western Balkans in EU is 'obvious'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  2. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  3. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  4. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  6. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  7. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name
  8. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  9. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  10. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  11. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  12. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections

Latest News

  1. EU asks charities to explain anti-abuse measures
  2. ECB, Budget, EU elections This WEEK
  3. EU states stay mute on implementation of mercury bill
  4. Baltic states demand bigger EU budget
  5. Germany raises concerns over Hungary's 'Stop Soros' bills
  6. EU ties Brexit transition talks to divorce agreement
  7. EU divided over Western Balkan enlargement
  8. Facebook and Twitter weak on protecting users, says EU