London will remain open to EU, mayor vows ahead of high-level talks

London will "remain open to talent, ideas and people from across the world" despite Britain voting to leave the European Union, Mayor Sadiq Khan said ahead of a meeting with EU Parliament President Martin Schulz on Thursday.

The decision to leave the EU "was not what the capital wanted," Khan said, but it would work closely with the EU and its member states to "boost economic prosperity both here in London and across the continent."

He said he planned to discuss with Schulz how he is pressing the British government to "state unequivocally that no retrospective legislation will ever be introduced that curtails the rights of EU nationals currently working in London."

Speaking in Berlin earlier Thursday before meetings with Khan and Prime Minister Theresa May in London, Schulz said Britain needs to leave the EU before parliamentary elections in the bloc in mid-2019.

Negotiations on a so-called Brexit can take no longer than two years, meaning that Britain would have to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty - which sets the rules for a two-year negotiating process for a nation leaving the EU - by the middle of next year.

May has said she will not trigger Article 50 this year, but many analysts expect her to do so early next year.

Schulz said that considering the highly complex modalities of a British exit from the bloc, he could understand that the British government wanted to take its time over the decision.

However, he added that it would be impossible for Britons to take part in the mid-2019 election, which sees member states elect deputies to represent them in the legislature in Brussels.

Schulz said he planned to "reiterate that the four freedoms of the single market - goods, capital, services and persons - are equally important" during his meetings in London.

A narrow majority of British voters opted to leave the European Union in a referendum on June 23.

Last update: Thu, 22/09/2016 - 18:11
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