Emmanuel Macron has urged his EU counterparts to stand firm against Theresa May in Brexit negotiations after the PM urged the bloc to give ground in talks.
Speaking at a summit in Salzburg the French president said EU unity must take precedent over any other considerations.
“May spoke last night. My first wish is to stay united and to have a common approach, the 27. It is essential,” he told reporters on the doorstep of the second day of the meeting.
“The second thing is that we remain coherent. The solution must be found. The third thing is that we need to have a real retirement agreement by November.”
The Prime Minister briefly addressed leaders over dinner on Wednesday evening to make the case for the EU to give ground. The 27 remaining EU leaders are now discussing Ms May’s Chequers proposals over lunch, without her.
France has taken the hardest line of the member states in recent weeks, including its insistence that an outline of the future relationship should be detailed. Other states have suggested it should be allowed to be vague in order to ease the passage to a deal – after the EU rejected key planks of it on customs and the single market.
Elaborating on his position, Mr Macron added: “We have very clear principles regarding the integrity of the single market and regarding precisely the Irish border.
“We need a UK proposal precisely preserving this backstop in the framework of a withdrawal agreement.”
Other leaders took softer line: On his way into the summit Xavier Bettel, the prime minister of Luxembourg, said that “compromise from both sides, not from one side” was necessary.
But asked about why the EU was then sticking to his guns, he replied: “We have some colleagues around the table who think the same about Theresa May.” Read more
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