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Speech: PM statement at European Council Meeting : 9 March 2017


War Hero
At this summit, we have shown once again how Britain will continue to play a leading role in Europe long after we have left the EU.

In particular, through our contribution to the challenge of managing mass migration; through our leadership in tackling organised crime and instability in the Western Balkans; and through the new and equal partnership that we want to build between the EU and an independent, self-governing, global Britain.

Allow me to say a few words on each.


First, on migration, we have reviewed progress in implementing the action plan agreed at our last summit in Malta.

I have made clear that we must do more to tackle the vile people smuggling rings who profit from the migrants’ misery.

As I have argued, we need a managed, controlled, and truly global approach – and that is exactly what this Council agreed.

We need to help ensure refugees claim asylum in the first safe country they reach, and help those countries support the refugees so they don’t have to make the perilous journey to Europe.

And we need a better overall approach to managing economic migration – one which recognises that all countries have the right to control their borders.

Western Balkans

Later this evening, we will begin our discussions on the Western Balkans.

I will make clear my concerns about the potential for increased instability in that region and the risks that presents to our collective security. I will call for the international community to therefore do more to tackle organised crime in the region, including by working more closely with our Western Balkans partners.

And in light of the alleged Montenegro coup plot, I will call for us to do more to counter destabilising Russian disinformation campaigns and raise the visibility of the Western commitment to this region.

And today I can announce that the UK will lead the way by hosting the 2018 Western Balkans Summit. In the run-up, this year we will enhance our security cooperation with our Western Balkans partners, including on serious and organised crime, anti-corruption and cyber security.


Finally turning to Brexit, our European partners have made clear to me that they want to get on with the negotiations. So do I.

It is time to get on with leaving the European Union and building the independent, self-governing, global Britain the British people have called for.

And so, as I have said, we will trigger Article 50 by the end of this month. This will be a defining moment for the UK as we begin the process of forging a new role for ourselves in the world – as a strong country with control over our borders and over our laws.

And as the Chancellor made clear yesterday, we will use this moment of change to build a stronger economy and a fairer society that works for ordinary working people by embracing genuine economic and social reform here at home.

Britain is leaving the European Union but we are not leaving Europe. A global Britain that stands tall in the world, will be a Britain that remains a good friend and ally to all our European partners.

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