After having consulted most of you and in order to better prepare our summit in Bratislava, let me share some personal reflections. I think it is important that we make an honest assessment of the current situation to provide the best possible basis for building our future together.
We are meeting in Bratislava at a particularly historic moment. Twenty-seven leaders of Europe are to discuss the future of our Union, following the first ever decision of a country to leave the EU. We all feel that in these turbulent times marked by crises and conflicts, what we need more than ever before is a confirmation of the sense of our community, which will be celebrating its 60th anniversary in a few months’ time.
Brexit not only challenges us with the task of negotiating new relations with the United Kingdom. In this respect, our position should remain clear and unambiguous (“No negotiations without notification”). The Treaty provisions drawn up in case of an EU exit protect the interests of the Union. Our objective in the future negotiations should be, on the one hand, to establish the best possible relations with the UK; on the other hand, however, we should stick to the Treaty and be coolheaded, consistent, and fully united as well as firm in insisting on a balance of rights and obligations. If we do so, there will be no room for doubt that it is a good thing to be a member of the Union.