The Latest: Imagine: John Lennon sows discord at EU summit

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The Latest: Imagine: John Lennon sows discord at EU summit
The Latest: Imagine: John Lennon sows discord at EU summit

BRUSSELS (AP) – The Latest on the European Union summit (all times local):

3:15 p.m.

John Lennon is turning into a factor at the European Union summit when his famous prose from “Imagine” is turning into a war of words about Brexit negotiations.

First, European Council President Donald Tusk said that “You may say I am a dreamer but I’m not the only one” when it came to still holding hopes that Britain could stay.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel then had his quick retort. He said: “I am not a dreamer. And I am not the only one.” Michel insisted the British people had chosen to leave and negotiations should now proceed apace.

He added that “What we also need is certainty, for our companies in Belgium, in Europe.”

“If we back this image that Brexit perhaps would not happen, it brings an uncertainty.”

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3 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said as she arrived at a summit of European Union leaders that shaping the future of the EU should take priority over Brexit negotiations.

Merkel said in Brussels on Thursday that the Brexit talks will be conducted quickly and “we will do everything to continue succeeding, as we have so far, in keeping the 27 member states together.”

She added: “We want to conduct these negotiations in such a way that they take place in a good spirit, and we know that we want to continue working afterward with Britain.”

But Merkel said that “for me, shaping the future of the 27 member states has priority over the question of the negotiations with Britain on its exit.”

Brexit negotiations started Monday.

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2:45 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May says that the negotiations to withdraw from the European Union have “started constructively.”

She says that she will set out how she will protect the rights of EU citizens in Britain while looking for similar protection for Britons living elsewhere in the bloc.

May said “that has been an important issue.”

May will discuss the matter at the summit’s evening session. Afterward, the 27 other leaders will meet without May to assess the issue themselves.

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2:10 p.m.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel has immediately countered the suggestion of European Council President Donald Tusk that the door for Britain to stay in the EU is still slightly ajar.

And he took exception to Tusk’s parallel that the EU, too, “was built on dreams that seemed impossible to achieve.”

Michel wrote in a Twitter message : “It’s time for action and certainty. Not for dreams and uncertainty #Brexit.”

Tusk made the comments a few hours before a bilateral meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May, quoting John Lennon’s song “Imagine”: “So who knows? You may say I am a dreamer but I’m not the only one.”

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1:10 p.m.

The spokesman for Poland’s president has reacted to criticism by French President Emmanuel Macron, saying the funding that the European Union gives Poland does not oblige Warsaw to accept a quota of refugees under an EU plan.

Krzysztof Lapinski reacted Thursday to criticism by Macron who said in an interview with newspapers including Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza daily that East European leaders are betraying Europe’s values but want its funds, adding: “Europe is not a supermarket. Europe is a common destiny.”

Macron identified no countries, but EU leaders are criticizing Poland and Hungary in particular for their refusal to accept migrants.

Lapinski, who is spokesman for President Andrzej Duda, retorted that he agreed “Europe is not a supermarket” – and that means the EU should not expect Poland to accept the migrants just because it gives the country structural funds.

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12:30 p.m.

British Prime Minster Theresa May is set to fly to Brussels to try to break the impasse in Brexit negotiations over the status of expatriate citizens after Britain leaves the bloc.

May will attend a European Council summit Thursday to speak to her European counterparts about her plans for the 3 million EU nationals living in Britain – an issue she says is her first priority for early agreement in the Brexit talks.

Her office at Downing Street declined to reveal details about the proposals on citizens’ rights. But Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he hoped leaders of the other 27 EU nations would offer “reciprocal, corresponding generosity” for the 1 million Britons living in Europe.

May is going to Brussels for her first European summit since losing her Parliament majority in the election earlier this month.

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11:20 a.m.

European Council President Donald Tusk says that he still holds out hope that Brexit can be reversed even though the negotiations on Britain’s departure from the European Union officially started this week.

Tusk has made the comments a few hours before a bilateral meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May. Tusk says that he had been asked by British friends if he could see a way of Britain still staying in.

Tusk said that “I told them that in fact the EU was built on dreams that seemed impossible to achieve.”

He added to that by quoting a John Lennon song: “So who knows? You may say I am a dreamer but I’m not the only one.”

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10 a.m.

European Union leaders are gathering to weigh measures to tackle terrorism, closer defense ties and migration, convinced that anti-EU sentiment and support for populist parties are waning.

Before the two-day meeting in Brussels starting Thursday, summit chairman Donald Tusk trumpeted the resurgence of the EU, even as Britain launched talks this week on leaving.

Tusk told the leaders in an invitation letter that after a series of election defeats for anti-migrant parties, notably in France, the EU is “slowly turning the corner.”

He said “we are witnessing the return of the EU rather as a solution, not a problem.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May is due to praise the good atmosphere at Monday’s Brexit talks, and explain how to protect the rights of citizens hit by Britain’s departure.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, left, and UK representative to the EU Tim Barrow arrive for an EU summit at the Europa building in Brussels on Thursday, June 22, 2017. European Union leaders are gathering for a two day summit to weigh measures to tackle terrorism and migration and to create closer defense ties. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for an EU summit at the Europa building in Brussels on Thursday, June 22, 2017. European Union leaders are gathering for a two day summit to weigh measures in which to tackle terrorism and migration and to create closer defense ties. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives for an EU summit at the Europa building in Brussels on Thursday, June 22, 2017. European Union leaders are gathering for a two day summit to weigh measures in which to tackle terrorism and migration and to create closer defense ties. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, left, and European Council President Donald Tusk walk between the EU and Ukrainian flags during arrivals at the Europa building in Brussels on Thursday, June 22, 2017. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is meeting European Council President Donald Tusk on the sidelines of an EU summit. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, left, is greeted by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker prior to a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, June 22, 2017. EU heads of state meet for a two-day summit beginning Thursday to discuss Brexit negotiations and security. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, center, walks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker prior to a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, June 22, 2017. EU heads of state meet for a two-day summit beginning Thursday to discuss Brexit negotiations and security. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
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