The European Union signaled its intention to keep Theresa May waiting before engaging in negotiations over the U.K.’s exit from the bloc, in an early indication of how the British prime minister will see leverage slipping away as soon as she files for divorce.
As EU leaders insisted they are fully prepared for the Brexit talks, they arranged a summit to agree on the outlines of their negotiating position for April 29. They canceled provisional plans to hold it three weeks earlier, indicating May’s announcement on Monday that she will invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on March 29 came too late. It means that one month of the U.K.’s two-year negotiating window will pass before the EU even discusses its initial response.
“We must do everything we can to make the process of divorce the least painful for the EU,” EU President Donald Tusk told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday as he announced the summit date. “Our main priority for the negotiations must be to create as much certainty and clarity as possible for all citizens, companies and member states that will be negatively affected by Brexit.”