April 10, 2019 / 1:46 PM / in 11 days

HIGHLIGHTS-EU leaders meet to give Britain second Brexit delay under conditions

(Adds Sanchez)

BRUSSELS, April 10 (Reuters) - European Union leaders meet in Brussels on Wednesday to grant Britain a second Brexit delay, with France pushing the hardest demands on London among the 27 states staying on together in the bloc.

Below please find comments by the EU leaders ahead of their summit in Brussels:

FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON

“The British people have chosen to leave the European Union. I regret this choice, it was not what I wanted. But it is not up to us to challenge it or in some way to do everything to prevent it from happening.”

“Now is the time for decisions.”

“It is with great impatience that I will listen to Theresa May, but as far as I’m concerned, nothing should be taken for granted. Nothing. And especially - I hear the rumours - a long extension.”

“At this stage, in my view, nothing should be taken for granted.”

GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL

“For me it’s very important that the UK says it will prepare for the EU elections. This guarantees the functioning of the EU institutions.”

IRISH PM LEO VARADKAR

“I think Europe would be better if the UK were to stay, but any decision on a second referendum or revocation should be taken by British people.”

“The UK can leave in matter of weeks if the House of Commons passes the withdrawal agreement.”

“It’s in our interest to have the UK in our block, it can not be a silent partner, would have to have a say.” “Until we’ve heard what May has to say it’s hard to make a decision.”

“We all want to avoid no deal, but we don’t want a situation whereby this level of uncertainty goes on forever because it is not fair on our citizens, it is not fair on business.”

“It is evident that the United Kingdom is in a very difficult position. They’ve got themselves into a bit of a fix.”

“We need to show them some flexibility by giving them a little bit more time to come to a conclusion.”

“What we will need to here is a perspective, is a plan, some assurances that an extension wouldn’t just allow this impasse to go on forever.”

“I think it (flexible extension) has merit ... I know we all want to avoid a no deal scenario but we don’t want an extension that goes on forever.”

“Having the UK as part of a customs union means that we all get a better deal.”

UK PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY

“I know many people will be frustrated that the summit is taking place at all because the UK should have left the European Union by now.”

“I greatly regret the fact that parliament has not been able to pass a deal that would enable us to leave in a smooth and orderly way, but I and the government continue to work to find a way forward.”

“We have been talking with the opposition. There have been serious, constructive talks. They will continue tomorrow.”

“The purpose of this summit is to agree an extension which gives us more time to agree a deal to leave the EU in that smooth and orderly way.

“I’ve asked for an extension to June 30, but what is more important is that the extension enables us to leave at the point at which we ratify the withdrawal agreement so we could leave on May 22 and start to build our brighter future.”

“I’ve been clear that the UK request is for an extension to June 30. I have been working to make sure that we can leave the European Union. Indeed we could have left the European Union by now, but parliament didn’t pass the withdrawal agreement.”

“We need that extra time to work to ensure that we can get a deal through parliament that enables us to leave in a smooth and orderly way. That’s in everybody’s interest.”

“What matters is that we are able to leave the European Union at the point at which we ratify that withdrawal agreement. That would enable us to leave on May 22.”

“I’m working to ensure that we can leave the European Union within the time scale that the government wants to see. I want us to be able to leave the European Union in an smooth and orderly way as soon as possible and that’s what I’m going to be working for.”

LUXEMBOURG PM XAVIER BETTEL

“I have long patience.”

“I would support an intelligent extension - long or short. For me it’s the most important to have European elections in May.”

“No elections - no extension. You cannot be a member and not have elections. That is not possible.”

“We should listen to her now, why she needs June.”

“It’s not our choice, it was the choice of UK citizens. What seemed to be so easy during the referendum... we are still working on it.”

“I am still waiting for Godot. Still no Godot in sight.”

“I hope we will have a happy end soon.”

“The best Brexit outcome would be a second Brexit referendum with a ‘yes’.”

EU BREXIT NEGOTIATOR MICHEL BARNIER

“Any extension has to useful and serve a purpose. And our common purpose is to get the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement.”

“This Withdrawal Agreement is the only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the UK, which is our common interest.”

SPANISH PM PEDRO SANCHEZ

“Firstly, we are going to hear what is the position of Prime Minister May, we know that they are in contact with Labour, with the leader of the opposition, to see if they can reach an alternative agreement linked to the customs union.”

“We need to wait for the results of those negotiations, but what I think is important... is that Spanish government has come with a constructive attitude. We believe we are facing a historic situation that requires a cool head.”

“It’s so important to guarantee the unity of the 27 and try be all means that there no disorderly Brexit.”

ITALIAN PM GIUSEPPE CONTE

“We favour an extension. Obviously the extension cannot be of one month or two. Should be a longer extension. We will discuss this with the other leaders.”

CZECH PM ANDREJ BABIS

“We need a longer extension. I would say the proposal by Donald Tusk is ideal until next March 2020. Then Great Britain has more time to find a solution. Until June is very short... An extension until the end of the year or until next March is ideal.”

ESTONIAN PM JURI RATAS

“We must do all what we can to avoid no-deal and to have Brexit with agreement.”

LATVIAN PM KRISJANIS KARINS

“If they need a little more time, I think it’s reasonable to discuss what that would be. The decision what to do is up to British parliament and British people. They have three choices: no deal always an option, withdrawal with agreement is an option, and revoking Article 50 is. It’s up to the Brits to decide. It’s not our decision.”

SWEDISH PM STEFAN LOFVEN

“We need to make sure that the legitimacy and the integrity of the EU institutions are not hurt. The longer the extension, the more risk.”

“We need to look into that very closely.”

“We need to look into both possibilities.”

“It is very important now that PM May explains what is happening in the UK now.”

“An orderly exit is the best for everybody.”

“There is frustration - in the UK as well as in the EU. We have spent a lot of time and a lot of energy on this issue and we have so many important issues to get on with.”

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT DALIA GRYBAUSKAITE

“I am confident that we will supportive to the request of the prime minister. But it’s highly probably that it will be a longer extension than Theresa May wrote in her letter.”

DUTCH PM MARK RUTTE

“It is very well possible that we will decide to prevent a no deal Brexit tonight.”

“We will have several important discussions, on how long will an extension be and what conditions will be attached to it. ... There are differing opinions about that.”

“We need to make sure that the EU can function, that all member states cooperate loyally.”

BELGIAN PM CHARLES MICHEL

“It is not certain there will be a delay.”

“It is not certain what that would mean.”

DANISH PM LARS LOKKE RASMUSSEN

“We have to do what we need to get an orderly Brexit.”

“If we give her what she asks, an extension until the end of June, then we don’t need many conditionalities... We need her to ensure that she would prepare European elections.”

“I am open to discuss flextension until the end of the year but she has not asked for it.”

“The big question is: is there any added value to a longer extension? And that’s what we have to find out during our consultation with Theresa May at the beginning of the meeting.”

“I never wanted to UK to leave to European Union, the people of UK decided so and then we should do it in an orderly way.”

POLISH PM MATEUSZ MORAWIECKI

“We care deeply about working out a situation that would allow for the breaking of the ratification crisis in the UK.”

“It is still possible, the option to extend Brexit by another several months, another period, long enough to allow for the solving of this ratification process in the UK.”

“The Withdrawal Agreement is a good agreement, a very good one.”

“There is a certain visible impasse in the UK but boxing a partner into a corner does not help solve the problem. Giving a short extension is boxing Britain into a corner.”

“Poland wants the UK to stay in the EU though we of course respect the wish of the British people.”

PORTUGAL PM ANTONIO COSTA

“Our main priority should be to give confidence to citizens and companies by avoiding any risk of no-deal.”

“We need always to keep in mind that we need to manage this process with the goal to have with the UK the closest possible future relations.”

“That’s why we should agree to an extension as long as necessary for the UK to reach a clear and consequent position about the future of their relationship with the EU.”

“I’m never tired about Europe.” (Compiled by Reuters Bureau)

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