Paris: French President Emmanuel Macron, in a televised address, called Britain's departure from the European Union (EU) a "historic warning signal" that must be heard across Europe in order to reform in-depth the bloc and better defend its interests.
Hours before Britain leaves the EU on Friday, ending its 47-year membership of the world's biggest trading bloc, Macron recognized the "sovereign decision" of the British they had expressed in 2016 referendum but said "this departure is a shock", Xinhua news agency reported.
The French President called for continued in-depth reform to rebuild a clear project, "in which the desire to leave won't be the answer to the difficulties".
As to post-Brexit, Macron vowed to maintain a close relationship with Britain. However, he said that it could not expect to be treated the same way as when it was part of the EU.
"You can't be in and out. British people chose to leave the European Union. It won't have the same obligations, so it will no longer have the same rights," he said.
Macron also pledged to defend the interests of French fishermen, farmers and workers in the upcoming negotiations on the future relationship between Britain and the EU.
"In this negotiation, we will remain united, all 27 of us," said the French president.
As part of the EU-UK exit deal, an 11-month transition period begins on Feb. 1 to allow London and Brussels to strike an accord on their future relationship. That meant nothing will change in terms of people mobility and trade until Dec. 31, 2020.
However, by 2300 GMT, Britain will lose its vote in the EU meetings which define the bloc's economic and financial policies.
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