Macron: EU door remains open to UK

China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-15 07:34

 Macron: EU door remains open to UK

French President Emmanuel Macron watches as Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May recovers a sheet of notes which fell at the start of a joint statement at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, on Tuesday.Philippe Wojazer / Reuters

PARIS - French President Emmanuel Macron has said that the door to the European Union remains open to the United Kingdom as long as exit negotiations are not concluded, but it would be difficult to walk back once negotiations start.

Asked at a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday in Paris whether he agreed with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble who earlier told Bloomberg that Britain would find "open doors" if it changed its mind, Macron replied: "The door of course is still open as long as Brexit negotiations have not been concluded, but a sovereign decision to leave the EU has been taken and I respect that decision."

May said the timetable for Brexit negotiations remained on course with talks due to start next week. The two leaders met for a working dinner before together attending a France vs England friendly soccer match at the Stade de France stadium in Paris.

Macron's comments that it was not too late for Britain to remain inside the EU came as May faces a tug-of-war within her own party over her Brexit strategy following a disastrous snap election which she called.

Before the election May had proposed a clean break from the EU, involving a withdrawal from Europe's single market, but now weakened with a minority government, some in her party are calling for a more business-friendly approach.

After meeting May for the first time during the French presidential campaign last year, Macron had said the British prime minister should not expect any favors from the EU bloc during Brexit talks.

He told reporters outside 10 Downing Street at the time that "an exit is an exit".

Talks with DUP

Talks between Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party and May's Conservatives on supporting the British leader's minority government restarted on Wednesday, a senior Conservative source said.

May and DUP leader Arlene Foster held more than an hour of talks on Tuesday, after which Foster said an agreement, which is expected to be more informal than a coalition, could be done "sooner rather than later".

May lost her parliamentary majority in last week's election and needs the support of the DUP's 10 lawmakers to pass key legislation.

On Tuesday, May and Macron also said they had agreed on an action plan on counterterrorism. Both countries have been hit by deadly extremist attacks in recent months.

Macron said internet companies would be asked to do more to remove content promoting terrorism, access to encrypted content on online messaging systems would be widened, and cooperation with the United States on online content would be improved.

Reuters - Afp


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