July 25, 2016 / 6:27 AM / a year ago

No deadline for start of Brexit talks: EU president Juncker

PARIS (Reuters) - EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Monday there was no deadline for Britain to start talks on leaving the European Union.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker attends a news conference at the Delegation of the European Union to China in Beijing, July 13, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

New British Prime Minister Theresa May told Juncker earlier this month that Britain hoped to hold positive talks with the European Union after the June 23 referendum to leave the bloc, but needed time to prepare for the negotiations.

Juncker told France 2 television there was no deadline, since article 50 of the EU treaty, which specifies the exit procedures, can only be activated by Britain.

“I would have preferred the UK presents us its letter of resignation, so to speak, as soon as possible, as I had thought that the British, especially those who wanted to leave the EU, would have prepared for this possibility,” Juncker said.

He added that this was not the case and that the UK government would need several months to fine tune its position.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq

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