May has hailed the deal as the start of a new chapter for Britain, but European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the U.K.’s departure was a tragedy.
“It’s a sad day,” Juncker said as he arrived.
He told reporters that deal was “the best possible,” but the summit “is neither a time of jubilation nor of celebration. It’s a sad moment, and it’s a tragedy.”
The agreement paves the way for Britain’s smooth departure from the bloc from the EU side, though a bumpy ride still awaits in the U.K.
The last big obstacle to a deal was overcome on Saturday, when Spain lifted its objections over the disputed British territory of Gibraltar.
The deal must still be ratified by the European Parliament, something parliament President Antonio Tajani said would likely take place early in 2019.
Tajani said a “large majority” of European parliamentarians supported the deal.
More dauntingly for May, it also needs approval from Britain’s Parliament.
In a “letter to the nation” released Sunday, May said she would be “campaigning with my heart and soul to win that vote and to deliver this Brexit deal, for the good of our United Kingdom and all of our people.”
“It will be a deal that is in our national interest – one that works for our whole country and all of our people, whether you voted ‘Leave’ or ‘Remain,'” she said.
She said Britain’s departure from the EU “must mark the point when we put aside the labels of ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ for good and we come together again as one people.”
“To do that we need to get on with Brexit now by getting behind this deal.”
In a bittersweet landmark, European Union leaders on Sunday approved an agreement on Britain’s departure next year — the first time a member country will have left the 28-nation bloc.
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