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Italian PM urges unity in EU countries during Brexit

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Staff Writer | April 28, 2017
The 27 member states of the European Union (EU) should stay united during the negotiations for the exit of Britain from the bloc, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said.
Paolo Gentiloni
Exit   Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni
Gentiloni made his remarks while addressing both houses of the Italian parliament ahead of an extraordinary meeting of the European Council scheduled on April 29, which would define the guidelines for Brexit.

"Unity among the 27 EU countries is absolutely crucial, for both EU member states and Britain," the prime minister said.

After a majority of British citizens voted to leave the EU in a referendum held in June 2016, British Prime Minister Theresa May in March this year triggered Article 50 of the European Lisbon Treaty, the formal mechanism that allows a country to exit the bloc.

Talks to discuss the terms of the divorce are expected to start in the coming months and to last about two years.

In his address to the parliament, Gentiloni also stressed one of his government's priorities in the negotiations will be safeguarding the status and interests of EU citizens permanently living in Britain, Italians included.

"It is our duty and our right to ask for our compatriots certain safeguards and administrative protection, immediately enforceable, non-discriminatory, and based on a principle of reciprocity," he told lawmakers.