BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The 27 EU national leaders gathered on Sunday to endorse both a detailed treaty setting out the terms on which Britain will leave the European Union and a declaration outlining how Britain can keep close to its biggest market by following many EU rules after a two to four year transition.
The following are their comments before the meeting began.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER
“It is a sad day. Seeing a country like Great Britain, but I would say this of any others, leaving the European Union is not a moment of jubilation or celebration. It is a sad moment, a tragedy.”
“I believe that the British government will succeed in securing the backing of the British parliament.”
“I would vote in favour of this deal because this is the best deal possible for Britain.... This is the deal. It is the best deal possible and the European Union will not change its fundamental position when it comes to this issue.”
“All along this extraordinary negotiation, very difficult we have worked to reach a deal. That means to organise in an orderly fashion the withdrawal decided by the UK.
We have negotiated with the UK, never against the UK. Now it is time for everybody to take their responsibility, everybody.
This deal is a necessary step to build trust between the UK and the EU, we need build in the next phase of this unprecedented and ambitious partnership. We will remain allies, partners and friends.”
“I think the loss of the United Kingdom is really bad news, I have always thought that. I think we now have an agreement that limits the damage for the UK and for the EU... What we have found is an acceptable package, but it remains bad news but a balanced package for both sides.”
“This is a balanced outcome with no political winners or victories, but I think it is acceptable.
“I don’t expect a no vote. I expect a yes vote and this is the deal on the table. I don’t think there’s anything more.”
“I don’t want to contemplate a no vote. I think there will be a yes vote, but more in general, I think this is the maximum we can all do, both Theresa May and her government as well as the European Union. No victors here today, nobody winning, we’re all losing, but given the context, that is acceptable.”
Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop