Frans Timmermans, the first vice-president of the European Commission, also called for clarity on the timeline of triggering Article 50, after the Supreme Court upheld a High Court ruling which requires Parliament to set off the Brexit process.
He said he hoped to do “less harm as possible” to the UK and the European Union after saying the current situation was of Britain's own doing.
“It’s not the European Union that’s asked the UK to leave,” he said. “It’s the United Kingdom that has decided, through a referendum, to leave the European Union.
Frans Timmermans has said the EU would seek the "best possible deal" for the 17 remaining nations
It’s not the European Union that’s asked the UK to leave. It’s the United Kingdom that has decided, through a referendum, to leave the European Union
“I’m saddened by that but that’s a sovereign decision by the UK. The terms upon which they want to leave is up to them to stipulate in the notification on the basis of Article 50.
“And then it is our duty as 27 to negotiate, and I would think there’s two principles to get the best possible deal for the 27 because we’re negotiating on their behalf and of course I would like to add, to do as less harm as possible to all parties – I think those would be the guiding principles.”
Mr Timmermans also cast doubt over whether Britain would trigger Article 50 before the end of March.
Government Loses Brexit Vote Appeal
Tue, January 24, 2017
Britain's most senior judges ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May does not have the power to trigger the formal process Article 50 for the UK's exit from the European Union without Parliament having a say.
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Issued by the Supreme Court of (top row, from the left) Lord Neuberger, Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Sumption, (bottom row, from the left) Lady Hale, Lord Clarke, Lord Wilson and Lord Hodge, who agreed with the majority decision that the Government could not trigger Article 50 without Parliamentary approval.
Theresa May could end up triggering Article 50 weeks early
He said: “We can start negotiating once the United Kingdom has notified, as per Article 50 of the treaty, that the UK wants to leave the European Union.
“That's the moment we will start negotiating. When they will notify, that's in their hands. That's not in our hands.
“Whether the [UK Supreme] court ruling has any implication for that is purely for the Brits and the British Government to clarify. It's not in the hands of the Commission."
It could see Article 50 being triggered by mid-March, weeks earlier than expected.