September 19, 2018 / 5:17 PM / 3 months ago

EU leaders' comments ahead of summit in Austria

SALZBURG, Austria (Reuters) - European Union leaders met in Salzburg, Austria for an informal summit to discuss migration and Brexit. Below are comments of leaders arriving for a dinner on Wednesday before the main summit day on Thursday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for the informal meeting of European Union leaders ahead of the EU summit, in Salzburg, Austria, September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL

“I hope that we have an exit that takes place in a good atmosphere, with great respect for each other and that in certain areas very close cooperation is possible, namely in the areas of security — of domestic and also foreign security.”

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY

“I believe this (Chequers) is the right proposal because it maintains frictionless trade. It’s the only credible and negotiable plan on the table that delivers no hard border in Northern Ireland and also delivers on the vote of the British people.

“If we’re going to achieve a successful conclusion then, just as the UK has evolved its position, the EU will need to evolve its position too.

“I’m confident that with good will and determination we can agree a deal that right for both parties.

Question on Barnier comments about improving Irish backstop solution

“I welcome the fact that Michel Barnier is recognising the need to find a new solution. The original proposal put forward by the European Commission was unacceptable to us.

“We’ve always recognised that there are unique circumstances that apply in Northern Ireland, for example in relation to checks for some agricultural products. But what we cannot accept is seeing Northern Ireland carved away effectively from the United Kingdom’s customs territory.

“There are prominent Labour members like the mayor of London who are now trying to take us back to square one and are backing a second referendum and postponing the Brexit date, the exit day. I want to be absolutely clear: this government will never accept a second referendum. The British people have voted to leave the European Union and we will be leaving on the 29th of March, 2019.”

“I now call on the Labour leadership to rule out a second referendum and stop trying to frustrate the Brexit process.

“It’s now a matter of trust in British politicians that we should deliver on the will of the people.”

LUXEMBOURG PRIME MINISTER XAVIER BETTEL

“There are still efforts to make. We need to find a deal, a no-deal is a really bad solution. It’s a terrible solution for the UK and a bad solution for Europe. So we need to find a deal.”

AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR SEBASTIAN KURZ

“We are convinced that we need a deal. We must do everything to avoid a hard Brexit. It would not just harm British, but would also cause damage for us in Europe.

“We are striving to make a compromise possible. (EU Brexit negotiator) Michel Barnier is doing well, he has our full support. He has taken a step towards the British. Now we expect a willingness to compromise from the British hopefully to bring about a deal.

Slideshow (4 Images)

“We will propose today there is an extraordinary summit in November and if the member states support this, it will happen. Hopefully by then we will reach an agreement with Great Britain.”

SLOVENIAN PRIME MINISTER MARJAN SAREC

“We hope there will be a deal. There is even a chance in October ... but we’ll see. It’s not just one negotiator - if Britain also support this ... it’s possible.”

Reporting by Brussels newsroom

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