EU leaders to sign off ‘tragic’ Brexit deal

By: AFP November 25,2018 - 08:33 PM

EUROPEAN Union leaders met Sunday to approve a historic Brexit deal, with one declaring Britain’s withdrawal a “tragedy,” but holding out hope of close future ties.

Arriving for a special summit in Brussels, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the bloc’s executive arm, said it was a “sad day.”

“To see a country like Great Britain… leave the EU is not a moment of joy nor of celebration, it’s a sad moment and it’s a tragedy,” he said.

Michel Barnier, the former French foreign minister who negotiated the deal on behalf of the bloc, added: “We will remain allies, partners and friends.”

The leaders of the 27 EU states will approve the agreement before being joined by British Prime Minister Theresa May in a highly symbolic moment.

Forged during 17 months of tough negotiations, the deal covers financial matters, citizens’ rights, Northern Ireland and a transition phase, and sets out hopes for future security and trade ties.

But it is not the final stage, as the House of Commons in London must still approve the deal before Brexit day on March 29, 2019 – and many MPs have warned they will not back it.

Until the agreement is approved, all sides are still planning for the potentially disastrous possibility that Britain ends its four-decade EU membership with no new arrangements in place.

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