Belgium: 'New chapter begins' — EC, EP, EUCO chairs hold presser on Brexit day

The President of the European Parliament David Sassoli said a new chapter begins for the European Union as the UK officially leave the bloc when the arrows strike midnight on Friday evening. Sassoli was speaking alongside European Council President Ursula von der Leyen and European Commission President Charles Michel in Brussels on Friday. «We realised that in these discussions the European Union... Еще managed to obtain many advantages because it proved itself to be much more united. We realised that Europe is precious both for the Europeans and also for the world,» he said.» «Today [we agreed] with our British friends to start the discussions from tomorrow, which would be quite challenging. It would be natural to defend one's interests, but by attempting to do it with friendship and with fraternity. And I believe that this wish is shared by all of our citizens,» he added. Von der Leyen said that the EU was «losing a former member that was very pragmatical, very down-to-earth, very clear on the economic agenda, who was not always easy, but all 27 [members] are not always easy... but a friend and member with whom we shared, as I said, a lot of history and a lot of experience.» «Our experience has taught us that strength does not lie in splendid isolation, but in our unique union,» said the EC president. «This is grounded in centuries of shared history, decades of shared experience, and a determination and confidence to shape our common future together. And let there be no doubt — the challenges that Europe faces, and the opportunities that it can grasp, have not changed because of Brexit,» she added. The UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973 and after 47 years it is the first member state to withdraw from the EU. On January 9, the Brexit bill was approved at its third reading with 330 MPs voting for and 231 against in the House of Commons. The UK is due to leave the EU at 23:00 (GMT) on Friday, January 31.

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