EU Council president Donald Tusk says the triggering of Article 50 is 'not a happy occasion'
The European Union is unhappy Britain is leaving, European Council President Donald Tusk told reporters on Wednesday after receiving formal notification from London, but the other 27 states are now more united and will protect their interests in "difficult negotiations" before Brexit in 2019.
Mr Tusk said that the triggering of Article 50 was not a happy occasion, telling a Brussels press conference his message to the UK was: "We already miss you. Thankyou and goodbye."
He added: "There is nothing to win in this process and I am talking about both sides. In essence, this is about damage control."
Britain has formally triggered the process of leaving the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday.
Donald Tusk received a letter from the British ambassador to the EU on Wednesday. The notification letter, handed over in Tusk's Brussels office in the presence of journalists, triggers a two-year countdown to Brexit under Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty.
"The Article 50 process is now under way and in accordance with the wishes of the British people, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union," May told parliament.
May said Britain would seek to agree its future partnership with the bloc alongside the withdrawal terms.