January 4, 2017 / 10:27 AM / in a year

New EU president says rest of bloc unified on dealing with Brexit

BRDO PRI KRANJU, Slovenia (Reuters) - The European Union is more unified in its policy toward Britain’s leaving the bloc than on anything else in its past, the new holder of the EU presidency said on Wednesday.

A Union flag flies next to the flag of the European Union in London, Britain, November 4, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

“I spoke and visited basically all other 26 (EU) member states and there’s a ... convergence on the attitude toward Brexit. I have never seen such a convergence within the European family,” Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told reporters on the sidelines of a diplomatic conference in Slovenia.

When asked to comment on the resignation of Ivan Rogers, the British ambassador to the EU, he said: “That’s a totally national issue for them .... We stick to the point that there should be no negotiation without notification.”

The EU says it will not begin negotiations until Britain formally invoked Article 50 of the EU treaty triggering withdrawal. British Prime Minister Theresa May says she will do so by the end of March.

Muscat also said the EU needs to secure its borders, stressing those at sea.

“We are keen and want to put forward proposals on the securing of maritime borders … that is why we believe that a replication of any deal which is similar to the Turkish deal in the central Mediterranean is very important in the next few months before there is a larger crisis.”

Malta, which is close to North Africa, is one of the frontline EU states in the migrant crisis.

Reporting By Marja Novak Editing by Jeremy Gaunt

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