European Union Leaders Meet without Britain for First Time after Brexit

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – European Union leaders were meeting without the Britain for the first time in more than four decades Wednesday, as they work to reaffirm their union after Britain’s decision to leave it.

European Union Leaders Meet without Britain for First Time after Brexit

The leaders have to decide what stance they want to take toward the first-ever member to depart the EU and how to stop growing discontent with Brussels to lead to similar rejections in one or more of the 27 remaining countries.

The debate is bound to be divisive. Leaders have widely different views on how to treat the Britain during the exit talks, which are expected the last around two years, and the subsequent discussions on what kind of relationship London will maintain with the EU.

Some countries, which fear anti-EU uprisings in their own countries, want to take a tough path, in which the Britain is made to feel what advantages it is foregoing by ditching the EU’s single market and cooperation on everything from security to climate policies. Others, which rely on Britain as a major trading partner and geopolitical ally, have argued for a softer tack that leaves the EU closely bound to one of the world’s largest economies and military forces, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The government in London has yet to formally initiate exit talks. After a summit with British Prime Minister David Cameron Tuesday, EU leaders appear to have resigned themselves that the task of triggering Article 50 of the EU Treaty, which sets out the exit process, will be left to a new government that won’t take office until after the summer. That leaves the other 27 states in limbo over what kind of relationship Braitain wants to have with the EU after its departure.

There are also different views how the EU should move forward. While most leaders stressed the importance of the remaining 27 sticking mostly together, others see the rupture as an opportunity to proceed at two speeds—deeper integration for those who want it and looser ties for those who don’t.

Some EU politicians also see the exit of Britain as a sign that the 19-country currency union needs to pull closer together, creating for instance a centralized budget and stricter enforcement of budget rules.

Others argue that the growing alienation of citizens within the EU shows that Brussels’ powers have already gone too far and that governments need to be given more space to improve growth and fight unemployment.

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