Article 50: "We already miss you". The European Union reacts.
Donald Tusk has warned there is nothing to win in Breixt telling a press conference he would not pretend it was a happy day.
Speaking after he received the Article 50 notification letter just before 12.30pm UK time, 1.30pc local time, the European Council president said most Europeans, including nearly half of British voters, wished the European Union and Britain had “stayed together not drifted apart”.
He closed the press conference in Brussels saying: “We already miss you. Thank you and goodbye.”
The European Council president said: “Paradoxically there is something positive in Brexit. Brexit has made us a community of 27 more determined and more united than before.
“There is nothing to win in this process and I am talking about both sides. In the essence this is about damage control
“Our goal is clear to minimise cost for EU citizens business and member states. We will do everything in our power and we have all the tools to achieve this goal.”
He stressed that EU law would continue to apply to and in the UK and warned that the EU27 would “act as one”.
This is the full statement from the European Council in response to the triggering of Article 50:
“Today, the European Council received a letter from the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, notifying the United Kingdom’s intention to leave the European Union. This notification follows the referendum of 23 June 2016 and starts the withdrawal process under Article 50 of the Treaty. We regret that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union, but we are ready for the process that we now will have to follow.
“For the European Union, the first step will now be the adoption of guidelines for the negotiations by the European Council. These guidelines will set out the overall positions and principles in light of which the Union, represented by the European Commission, will negotiate with the United Kingdom.
“In these negotiations the Union will act as one and preserve its interests. Our first priority will be to minimise the uncertainty caused by the decision of the United Kingdom for our citizens, businesses and Member States. Therefore, we will start by focusing on all key arrangements for an orderly withdrawal.
“We will approach these talks constructively and strive to find an agreement. In the future, we hope to have the United Kingdom as a close partner.
“President Tusk has convened the European Council on 29 April 2017.”