EU must learn lessons from Brexit, says Macron
The French president said the UK leaving the EU shows that Europe is fragile.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said the European Union must “learn lessons” from Britain’s decision to leave it.
Speaking from Brussels, Mr Macron said that the exit of a major member state for the first time in the bloc’s history showed “Europe is fragile” and the EU “is not a given”.
The French leader said European leaders have a duty to “protect it against all those who forget that it is a guarantee of peace, prosperity and security”.
Mr Macron also paid homage to Prime Minister Theresa May for seeking a “path to durable co-operation” with the EU, while defending UK interests during negotiations.
Twenty-seven EU leaders have endorsed a deal that sets out the terms of Britain’s departure on March 29 and sets a framework for future ties.
Meanwhile, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel described the deal as a “diplomatic piece of art”.
Mrs Merkel, also speaking in Brussels, said: “It’s an historic day, which triggers very ambivalent feelings … it is tragic that the UK is leaving the EU now after 45 years, but we have to, of course, respect the vote of the British people.”
She praised the deal struck “in an extremely difficult situation, in a situation without any precedence because we haven’t had it before that a European country leaves the EU”.
Mrs Merkel said, while the agreement was based on very hard negotiations, it “considers both sides’ interest”.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said the UK could not hope to negotiate better terms before its departure in March.
He said: “I am totally convinced this is the only deal possible. Those who think that by rejecting the deal that they would have a better deal will be disappointed the first seconds after the rejection.”
Mrs May was in agreement, saying: “This is the deal that is on the table. It is the best possible deal. It is the only deal.”