EU Council President Donald Tusk grimaces at a press conference in Brussels, Belgium, Wednesday, March 29, 2017 showing the letter he received signed by Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May formally triggered the beginning of Britain's exit from the European Union. ((AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

The Latest: EU diplomat says bloc won't punish Britain

March 29, 2017 - 8:31 am

LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Brexit (all times local):

1:30 p.m.

A senior European diplomat says the European Union won't seek to punish Britain for leaving the bloc.

There has been speculation in the British press since last year's referendum on the so-called Brexit that the other 27 EU members could try to extract maximum suffering from the UK in order to discourage others from leaving.

The diplomat, who wasn't authorized to be quoted by name, dismissed such views Wednesday, noting that Britain will have to grapple with the fallout from its departure from the EU's single market.

"Leaving the common market will hurt a lot all on its own," he said.

—By Frank Jordans in Berlin.


1:25 p.m.

European Union leaders say they will remain united and strive to protect the bloc's interest following Britain's decision to leave.

In a statement Wednesday the leaders said "the Union will act as one and preserve its interests. Our first priority will be to minimize the uncertainty caused by the decision of the United Kingdom for our citizens, businesses and member states."

They said they would "start by focusing on all key arrangements for an orderly withdrawal."

The leaders will meet in Brussels in one month, on April 29.


1:25 p.m.

European Union Council President Donald Tusk says he will have a proposal for a negotiating mandate ready for the member states by Friday, only two days after Britain triggered the negotiating mandate for divorce proceedings.

Tusk said that he would "share guidelines for negotiations" with the 27 member states when he is in Valletta, Malta, on Friday.

Once those are delivered, the 27 member states will have to come up with definitive guidelines at a summit on April 29 in Brussels.

Later, those guidelines will have to be poured into strict legal text and real negotiations could be expected to start in the second half of May.


1:20 p.m.

Germany's foreign minister says that the phrase "Let's stay friends" should be a motto for the divorce proceedings between Britain and the European Union.

But Sigmar Gabriel also made clear Wednesday that the EU negotiating team will have Berlin's full support in asserting "our common interests."

Gabriel said in a statement that "hard feelings may be understandable." He added that "for many, it is perhaps still hard to understand today how one can expect to be better off alone between worlds, particularly in these turbulent times," but that sentiment can't be the basis for future relations.

He added that "we need each other. We should do everything to nurture good and friendly relations with London in the future."


1:15 p.m.

The European Union's top official says that "we already miss you," moments after he received the official letter from British Prime Minister Theresa May triggering Brexit talks.

But European Council President Donald Tusk says that the withdrawal also "has made us, the community of 27, more determined and more united than before" to make "the difficult negotiations ahead" a success.

Tusk said that "there is nothing to win in this process." He added that: "our goal is clear: to minimize the cost for the EU citizens, businesses and member states. "

He said "we have all the tools to achieve this."


1:05 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May offered a polite and conciliatory statement in the letter to the European Union triggering Brexit talks.

May said in the letter that "we should engage with one another constructively and respectfully, in a spirit of sincere cooperation."

May says it is in the "best interests of both the United Kingdom and the European Union that we should use the forthcoming process to deliver these objectives in a fair and orderly manner, and with as little disruption as possible on each side."

The British leader offered a wish that Europe remain "strong and prosperous," and capable of defending itself from security threats.


1 p.m.

Denmark's prime minister says Britain's "goodbye" to the European Union is "incredibly sad," adding he expects "many bumps on the road."

Lars Loekke Rasmussen said in a statement that he hopes "the divorce" will take place in "an orderly fashion."

He said that Britain's decision to leave the EU and the inner Market "will have consequences."

The Danish government leader said "rights and responsibilities go hand in hand in the European Union. You cannot have one without the other."


12:55 p.m.

The head of the European Parliament's biggest political bloc says Britain's decision to leave the European Union is a mistake that will damage the U.K. and the EU.

European People's Party chairman Manfred Weber said Wednesday that "history will show that Brexit is a tremendous mistake. It will create a lot of damage for both sides."

But he said the parliament will respect the choice of British voters to leave and that "the negotiations should follow two steps: first we need to agree on the divorce settlement, then we will talk about the new relationship."


12:50 p.m.

Britain's prime minister is offering a broad outline of her plans for the process of leaving the European Union, saying she hopes for a deal for Brexit in two years.

Theresa May says that while she aims for a deal in two years, she aims for a "phased process" of implementation.

The British leader offered her plans after a letter triggering Article 50 of the European Union treaty was handed to the EU's top official, Donald Tusk.


12:40 p.m.

Britain's prime minister says that the U.K. has triggered the process of leaving the European Union.

Theresa May told the House of Commons that Britain has triggered the "EU divorce process" that "acts on the democratic will of the British people."

She made the comments after a letter triggering Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty was handed to the EU's top official, Donald Tusk.


12:30 p.m.

The European Union's top official says he has received the letter from Britain, formally triggering two years of Brexit talks.

European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted that "after nine months the UK has delivered," referring to the time since the outcome of Britain's June 23 referendum to leave the EU.

He later posted a photo of him receiving the letter from Britain's EU envoy Tim Barrow.

The photo shows Tusk accepting the letter, which was signed by British Prime Minister Theresa May, with two hands at the European Council's headquarters.


12:10 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is speaking to the House of Commons as anticipation builds before a key decision on leaving the European Union.

May says that the moment is upon us when the country is set to start the process of leaving the European Union. The decision follows a June 23 referendum.

May says that "today we do give effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom who voted for us to leave the European Union."


12 p.m.

Spain's Foreign Ministry has opened a special desk at its embassy in London to resolve doubts concerning the effects of Brexit on Spaniards living in Britain and Northern Ireland.

A ministry statement Wednesday said the desk will provide information on issues such as residence permits, health care, pensions, education and grants.

There are some 132,000 Spaniards registered as living in Britain and Northern Ireland, and 2 million visited in 2015.

British authorities say 11,000 Spanish students are studying in universities there.

Tens of thousands more Spaniards are understood to live in Britain there but are not registered.

The office's opening was timed to coincide with Britain's formal notification, expected soon, that it was beginning its exit from the European Union.


11:50 a.m.

Germany's Foreign Ministry says Britain will remain a "close partner and friend" despite the decision to leave the European Union, but that "being a close friend is not the same as being part of the family."

The ministry said Wednesday that EU negotiations with Britain will initially be about exiting the bloc, and then, "on this basis the new relationship between Britain and the EU can be discussed."

The ministry said that it was "daring" for Britain to decide to leave amid "uncertainty and restlessness" in the world.

It says the primary objective of negotiations with Britain will to be to minimize uncertainties for citizens, the economy and the EU.


11:40 a.m.

Croatia's prime minister says that his country will be the least affected by the British exit from the European Union because it was the last to join in 2013.

Andrej Plenkovic says that "both our analysis and the analysis by the European Commission have confirmed that."

The Hina news agency also quoted Plenkovic as saying that Brexit was a "big, huge mistake" whose negative consequences will be felt primarily in Britain.

He added that "no one can tell at this moment" when negotiations between the EU and Britain will end, and what kind of an agreement they will produce.

Plenkovic said that "it's a scenario unseen so far." He also said the EU should remain "inclusive" to not discourage future candidates striving to join the bloc.


11:05 a.m.

The European Union presidency says it is "imperative" that Britain must be left with a worse option than membership once Brexit negotiations are over.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat of Malta, which holds the EU presidency, said that negotiations must be transparent and honest.

He said: "Negotiations should be fair for both sides, but it is imperative that EU membership emerges as the superior option. EU will not be 27 different opinions on Brexit but one common vision."

Muscat spoke as he met with the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, in Valletta, Malta.

Barnier said: "Today is the first day in a very long and difficult road. The EU will look to establish a fair agreement for the long term future of union members."


10:45 a.m.

A powerful European Union commissioner says that the British letter to trigger two years of Brexit proceedings "is a negative message for Europe as a whole, for the U.K. especially."

Guenther Oettinger, a German who is EU commissioner for budget and human resources, said he expected "many difficult negotiations in the next weeks and months."

A letter signed by British Prime Minister Theresa May that formally triggers Brexit will be handed over to European Council President Donald Tusk in less than an hour.


8:50 a.m.

The British pound is facing some selling pressure before the formal triggering of the country's two-year process to leave the European Union.

With just hours to go before the start of the Brexit process, the pound was 0.4 percent lower at $1.2398. Since the country voted to leave the EU in a referendum last June, the currency has suffered a steep decline, losing around 20 percent of its value as traders fret over the potential economic impact of the decision to leave the world's largest trading bloc.

Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA, thinks the pound is "likely to remain quite volatile" throughout Wednesday's trading session. However, he says that following some weakness in the run-up to the triggering of the Article 50 process that "it is worth being prepared for a possible case of traders selling the news and buying the fact today."


8:35 a.m.

The EU official who will receive the letter from Britain that formally triggers Brexit says the handover will take place at 1:20 p.m. Brussels time (1120 GMT; 7:20 a.m. EDT)

European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted: "At 13.20 today, UK #Brexit notification letter (article 50) will be handed to me by Ambassador Tim Barrow."

The original timing was given as around 1130 GMT (7:30 a.m. EDT). A reason for the slight change in timing hasn't been given.

Barrow, who is Britain's EU envoy, is taking part in a routine meeting of ambassadors on Wednesday morning. He will take a break from the meeting and hand-deliver the letter signed by Prime Minister Theresa May that will formally trigger Brexit.


8 a.m.

Britain's European Union envoy has arrived at his office in Brussels for a meeting, hours ahead of triggering Brexit.

Tim Barrow is taking part in a routine meeting of ambassadors on Wednesday morning.

Barrow will later take a break from the meeting and hand-deliver a letter signed by Prime Minister Theresa May at around 1130 GMT (7:30 a.m. EDT) to EU Council President Donald Tusk. The letter will formally trigger Brexit.


7 a.m.

Britain is set to formally file for divorce from the European Union, ending a 44-year relationship following the decision made by U.K. voters in a referendum nine months ago.

Prime Minister Theresa May is due to announce in the House of Commons Wednesday afternoon that she has invoked Article 50 of the EU's key treaty, triggering a two-year countdown to Britain's exit.

At the same time, Britain's EU envoy, Tim Barrow, will hand-deliver a letter from May to EU Council President Donald Tusk.

May's office says she will tell lawmakers that the U.K. is embarking on a "momentous journey" and should unite to forge a "global Britain."

Britain and the EU have two years to unpick a tapestry of rules, regulations and agreements stitched over more than four decades.

AP Editorial Categories: 
Comments ()