‘Bad news for Europe’: EU reacts to Johnson’s big Brexit win

epa08068219 (L-R) European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the start of the second day of the European Council summit in Brussels, Belgium, 13 December 2019. EU leaders gathered in Brussels on 12 and 13 December to discuss climate change, the EU's long-term budget and external relations, the economic and monetary union and Brexit, among other issues. EPA-EFE/JULIEN WARNAND / POOL

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European Union leaders have welcomed Boris Johnson’s election triumph and called for a quick Brexit vote in the British parliament, even as the Czech prime minister warned it was “bad news for Europe”.

“He won and now they will leave, unfortunately. That is bad news for Europe,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis said as he arrived for a second day of an EU summit in Brussels.

The Europeans had widely expressed hope for a convincing victory in the British vote to achieve clarity in a crisis that has rocked Brussels since the British referendum to leave the bloc in June 2016.

German Chancellor Angella Merkel congratulated Johnson on his “resounding victory” on Friday morning and said she looks forward “to working with you for the friendship and strong cooperation between our nations.”

Charles Michel, who chairs the EU summits, also congratulated Johnson but did not dwell on the result, instead calling on Britain’s parliament to hold a swift parliament vote to approve the agreement with the EU that sets the terms of Britain’s exit.

European Council summit in Brussels
epa08068219 (L-R) European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the start of the second day of the European Council summit in Brussels, Belgium, 13 December 2019. EU leaders gathered in Brussels on 12 and 13 December to discuss climate change, the EU’s long-term budget and external relations, the economic and monetary union and Brexit, among other issues. EPA-EFE/JULIEN WARNAND / POOL

Michel said the EU was ready to negotiate a free-trade agreement with Britain but called on London to work in good faith.

“We expect, as soon as possible, the vote by the British Parliament … It’s important to have clarity, as soon as possible,” Michel told reporters as he arrived for a second day of an EU leaders’ summit.

“We are ready,” he said of trade talks.

The EU leaders have a Brexit text ready to adopt on Friday at the end of their two-day summit, which was dominated on Thursday by climate talks.

According to the latest draft, seen by the AFP news agency, the 27 other EU leaders will call for “as close as possible a future relationship with the UK” while warning that it “will have to be based on a balance of rights and obligations and ensure a level playing field”.

And they will ask the European Commission to submit “a draft comprehensive mandate for a future relationship with the UK immediately after its withdrawal”.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier will direct trade negotiations, which the leaders will follow closely “and provide further guidance as necessary, fully consistent with the EU’s best interest,” the conclusions will add.

Johnson has until July 1, 2020 to ask for a trade talk extension.

 

Via Al Jazeera

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