Britain will lose more from Brexit than EU, bloc's foreign policy chief says
Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, delivers a speech at Tsinghua University, in Beijing, China April 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
BEIJING (Reuters) - Britain will lose more than the European Union from its decision to leave the bloc, the EU's top diplomat said on Thursday, and talks with London were expected to be difficult.
Prime Minister Theresa May formally began Britain's divorce from the EU last month, declaring there was no turning back, ushering in a tortuous exit process that will test the bloc's cohesion and pitch her country into the unknown.
Britain now has two years to negotiate the terms of the divorce before it comes into effect in late March 2019.
The EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said during a visit to Beijing the negotiations would be difficult.
"They will have to dismantle their belonging to a community. We will lose an important member state," she told students at the elite Tsinghua University.
"Let me tell you that to me all member states are important, equally, because one can be contributing more on some policies than others. But I think our British friends will lose more than what we lose," she said.
Brexit negotiations will start as planned in June, after Britons vote in a snap general election, the EU said on Wednesday. Britain's parliament has endorsed May's call for a vote on June 8.
"It's clear in our treaties that it is two years, only two years, from when the negotiations start, that was March this year. This cannot be delayed. I do not expect that it will be faster than that," Mogherini said.
China has looked on with some concern at the Brexit process, nervous about instability in the bloc that is China's largest trading partner. It will lose around a sixth of its economic output when Britain leaves the EU.
"The European Union, even after the UK will be out, will continue to be the first market in the world, the second largest economy in the world," Mogherini said.
"I am seeing all our partners in these months telling us that the European Union is needed, and this is the message I also get from here in China that the European Union is an indispensable partner in the world today," she said.
(Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Paul Tait)
UAE sees 'parting of ways' if Qatar does not accept Arab demandsBy Aziz El Yaakoubi United Arab Emirates' Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Mohammed Gargash attends a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting in Riyadh March 12, 2015. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/Files DUBAI (Reuters) - A...READ MORE...
Syrian government says frees 672 prisoners A Syrian army soldier stands guard as a poster depicting Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is seen in the background in the Old City of Aleppo, Syria January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho/Files BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria's government said on Saturday it...READ MORE...
Iraqi forces free hundreds of civilians in Mosul Old City battles as death toll mountsBy Marius Bosch Displaced women and children who fled from clashes walk in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq June 24, 2017. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraqi forces opened exit routes for hundreds of...READ MORE...
Show some patriotism, UK minister tells broadcasters over Brexit Andrea Leadsom speaks at a news conference in central London, Britain July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hackett/Files LONDON (Reuters) - A prominent Brexit campaigner and leading member of Britain's government has scolded a BBC presenter...READ MORE...