Prime Minister Theresa May gave a statement following her meeting with the Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen in Copenhagen.
10 October 2016
Thank you very much and I am very pleased to have the opportunity to meet you Lars today, and to have discussions, as you say, on a number of topics. So I thank you for your hospitality.
As you say, Denmark is a natural partner to the UK. We are like-minded allies and we believe in working together for the prosperity and security of both our countries. I too would like just to say a few words on the topics we have discussed.
First of all, just to re-emphasise that our bilateral relationship, of course, is already strong.
Trade between our 2 countries is worth £10 billion a year and we are important security partners, working together in NATO to help keep our countries and allies safe.
Our troops fought together in Afghanistan, and now they’re working together to defeat Daesh in Iraq and Syria, and next year around 200 Danish troops will join the multinational NATO battalion that the UK will lead in Estonia, providing reassurance to our allies along NATO’s eastern flank.
And I want to build on these foundations in the years ahead and help our bilateral relationship to flourish.
The UK is leaving the EU but we are not turning our back on Europe, and we want to maintain strong relations with our partners like Denmark, and I’m committed to doing just that.
But of course, we are leaving the EU, so if I turn to Brexit, Lars and I have already talked about the work we are doing in the United Kingdom to prepare for those exit negotiations.
As I said last week, we’ll formally trigger the process of leaving no later than the end of March next year, and I hope it can be a smooth and orderly departure.
That is in the interests of Britain but I think it’s in the interests of all other European countries as well.
The relationship will be different in future because we won’t be members of the Union, but I want the agreement that we come to, to reflect the kind of mature, co-operative relationship that close friends and allies have and, as part of that, I expect to be able to guarantee the legal rights of EU nationals already in the UK, so long as the British nationals living in Europe – countries who are member states – receive the same treatment.
Now, while the UK remains a member of the EU, we will meet our various rights and obligations. We’ll be a fully engaged and active member of the EU until the point at which we leave.
That’s how I’m approaching this first European Council meeting that I will be attending later this month.
We want to work with our European partners. We want to ensure a consistent and firm response to Russian aggression.
We want to do more to address the root causes of mass migration that is affecting people and those movements into Europe and, as you have said Lars, we want to stand up for free trade – we want to ensure that people recognise the importance of free trade as a spur to economic growth.
That is something on which I think we think very much alike and on which we firmly agree, and we certainly want to be taking that argument forward and continuing to promote free trade.
So we have had, I think, excellent discussions today. Thank you very much for the invitation to join you today here in Copenhagen and thank you very much for your hospitality, and I look forward to us continuing to build on our relationship in the future.
Source: Gov.uk (Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.)