Before anything else, let me express my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of tonight’s attacks at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul. In times like these we should all be united.
As you can imagine this was very much a British European Council. And not only because of Brexit. Most of the other issues discussed were also “British”.
Leaders took important decisions on the single market, the digital market, the capital markets union, on stemming irregular migration and on closer cooperation with NATO.
We agreed to step up work with African countries on returns of irregular migrants, and on measures that would stabilise the situation in Libya. EU- NATO co-operation was discussed in the presence of Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the Warsaw Summit and we agreed to enhance our relationship given unprecedented challenges from the South and East. We decided on steps to deepen the Single Market further, especially when it comes to the digital market. We will also continue to develop the capital markets union despite the recent turmoil.
Most importantly, Prime Minister Cameron outlined the results of Thursday’s referendum. Respecting the will of the British people, we all recognized that a process of orderly exit was in everyone’s, and especially, in the UK’s interest. Prime Minister Cameron undertook that the decision to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union be taken by the new leadership in Britain. Our discussions were calm and measured. Leaders understand that some time is now needed to allow the dust to settle in the UK. But they also expect the intentions of the UK government to be specified as soon as possible. This was a very clear message which I believe Prime Minister Cameron will take back to London.
We also considered the post-Brexit economic situation in the presence of the European Central Bank President, who reassured us about the good and constant cooperation of central banks. However, it was also made clear that Brexit means substantially lower growth in the UK, with a possible negative spillover all over the world.
Finally, let me thank Prime Minister Rutte, who is finalising his presidency. Mark, thank you for your professional and hard work on migration and particularly on our deal with Turkey, but also for your key role in making the single market move forward. Talking about referendums and the Netherlands I would like to mention that the European Council also discussed the ratification of the DCFTA (Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area) for Ukraine. Leaders agreed to do their best to find a legally-binding solution that would allow Prime Minister Rutte to proceed with this ratification.
Tomorrow we will launch a discussion, in fact, a reflection process to give an impulse on the future of the EU. It will be our first informal meeting without the UK, among the 27 States. Thank you.