EU leaders stated on Friday that they are ready to proceed with the next stage of Brexit, after congratulating Prime Minister Boris Johnson on his victory in the British vote.
UK elections held on Thursday confirmed a strong majority for Johnson, marking for the first time since the 2016 referendum, a clear path towards UK’s planned departure from the European Union on January 31.
Johnson now has sufficient majority to pass the Withdrawal agreement “as soon as possible”, as the European Council President Charles Michel had also called the House of Commons.
“My point is very clear. The EU, we are ready. We have decided what are our priorities”, said Michel.
EU’s new chief, Ursula von der Leyen also stressed that “the time frame ahead of us is very challenging. We will have to work as soon as possible. We will be ready to get the most out of the short period available”, while she also added that “the level-playing field is of the utmost importance”.
French President Emmanuel Macron stated that “I don’t think that you can have a strong relationship with Europe’s single market with substantial regulatory differences on climate, environmental, economic or social regulations”, reflecting EU leaders’ concerns over cuts in the single market and the pace of trade negotiations.
Although the UK has not yet left the Union, the EU27 have asked from the EU Commission to prepare a draft mandate to start talks led by Michel Barnier, which will be ready by 1 February, according to von der Leyen.
The Commission President commented that “the time is very short to negotiate a broad field”, while the German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that it will be important for the EU leaders to work “quickly and precisely”.