Merkel puts EU future before Brexit talks
German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted on Thursday that the EU's future should be prioritised over Brexit talks as Prime Minister Theresa May met European leaders for the first time since a disastrous election gamble. Under intense pressure from all sides since losing her majority, May said her task at the Brussels summit would be to set out her plans to protect EU citizens' post-Brexit rights.
But Merkel, Europe's most powerful leader, made clear that this was not at the top of her agenda as she reaffirmed Berlin's strong ties with France and its newly-elected President Emmanuel Macron. "For me the shaping of the future of the 27 is a priority coming before the issue of the negotiations with Britain on the exit," Merkel said. "We want to conduct these negotiations in a good spirit but the clear focus has to be on the future of the 27." Macron, attending his first summit, did not mention Brexit directly but said it was now time to get down to concrete work.