June 23, 2017 / 2:26 PM / a month ago

Merkel says May's Brexit proposals "not the breakthrough"

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel talks to Estonia's Prime Minister Juri Ratas and European Council President Donald Tusk at the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 23, 2017.Gonzalo Fuentes

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the end of an EU summit in Brussels on Friday that proposals from British Prime Minister Theresa May on preserving the rights of EU citizens after Brexit were "not the breakthrough".

Speaking at a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, Merkel said: "It was a good start but it was also not the breakthrough, to put it conservatively."

"It became clear during the discussion last night that we have a long path ahead of us. And the 27 (other EU countries), especially Germany and France, will be well prepared, we will not allow ourselves to be divided."

The two leaders also made clear that they would not pursue changes to the EU's Lisbon Treaty unless reform of the bloc demanded it, saying much could be achieved short of treaty change.

And they sent the same message to eastern countries like Poland and Hungary who have been accused by the European Commission of threatening the rule of law by taking steps to limit the powers of the media and judiciary.

"The EU is based on common values," Merkel said. "If we see that these values are being damaged ... we need to speak out."

Reporting by Noah Barkin

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