European Union leaders have wrapped up an extraordinary summit in Brussels, sending Britain a clear message to get moving on exiting the bloc and to expect no special perks once it does, but struggling over how to move forward on a deeply unpopular European project.
“There are too many people in Europe who are unhappy with the current state of affairs and expect us to do better,” acknowledged European Council President Donald Tusk during a final news conference in the Belgian capital Wednesday, adding leaders would meet again in September to discuss the next post-Brexit steps.
The talks Tuesday and Wednesday were unprecedented, as the EU grapples with the fallout of last week’s British referendum that has unleashed disarray in financial markets and British politics, and sparked widespread soul-searching about reforming the 28-member bloc.
“The key issue is to what extent this core group of member states - France, Germany, but also Italy - can persuade governments in eastern and central Europe,” says Marco Incerti, spokesman for the Brussels-based Center for European Policy Studies. “They are the ones that need to get on board if the EU is to move forward.”
At a dinner Tuesday night, EU leaders bid goodbye to outgoing British Prime Minister David Cameron at a glum dinner lightened by a joking tweet, from Czech Europe Minister Tomas Prouza, who said there were no British staples on a menu that included quail salad and poached veal.
“No beans in tomato sauce nor pudding for the #Brexit #EUCO dinner tonight,” he noted.
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