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After Brexit, 28 Bloc EU Summit Charged With Emotion

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We are following news this morning from Istanbul. Turkey blames ISIS for a bombing at the international airport there and we now know that three suicide bombers struck, according to Turkish authorities, and the latest count says that more than 40 people have been killed.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We'll be following that story. We're also tracking the fallout from the Brexit vote in Europe last week. In Brussels, EU leaders are gathered for the first time since Britain voted to leave. There is still a lot of uncertainty about the timetable and terms of Britain's departure. But as NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports from Brussels, what's billed as the last summit of the 28 leaders has been full of emotion.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: British Prime Minister David Cameron attended his last supper Tuesday night with fellow EU heads of state. Speaking to reporters well after midnight, Cameron said the meal had been tinged with regret and sadness on the one hand, but expressions of lasting friendship on the other.

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DAVID CAMERON: In many ways, I wish the people at home had been able to hear some of the discussion we had at dinner tonight. The countries, our partners, our friends, our allies talking about the values that we share, the history that we share and the things that Britain has brought to Europe.

BEARDSLEY: Cameron said he would leave it to his successor to take the formal steps of exiting the EU. Britain must invoke Article 50 of the EU treaty to begin negotiations, which could take up to two years. While European leaders are anxious to begin as soon as possible, they are agreeing to give Britain a little more time. Still, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker could not hide his irritation.

JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER: What I don't understand is that those who wanted to leave are totally unable to tell us what they want. All those having complained for the leave - they are telling us we need some time. I thought that if you want to leave, you have a plan. You have a project.

BEARDSLEY: Cameron told his dinner partners the EU's failure to effectively address immigration and the refugee crisis was the main reason the Brexit vote won. Juncker said he isn't buying that. He says Britain shouldn't be surprised by the vote after years of negative talk about bureaucrats in Brussels running their country.

JUNCKER: Blaming Brussels day after day, starting in the morning and finishing at the evening, telling your people that Brussels is under the commandership of European Commission technocrats, not elected people.

BEARDSLEY: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte pointed out that any other nation thinking of quitting the EU might want to consider Britain's credit downgrade, the falling pound and the businesses now looking to leave. But he said the EU also had lessons to draw from the Brexit vote.

MARK RUTTE: And results of the British referendum is a painful illustration of the urgency of our task. We can't afford to ignore this wake-up call. And we need to rise to the challenge?

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MARINE LE PEN: (Shouting in French).

BEARDSLEY: In the European Parliament Tuesday, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen exalted in the Brexit vote. Populist parties across the continent have been spurred on by Britain's example. Rutte said the EU would counter such tendencies with tangible improvements to the lives of Europeans. He called the EU's single open market of 500 million people its greatest achievement.

RUTTE: It is the European engine for growth and jobs. But we still can switch it to a higher gear. And there's a lot to be gained, especially with respect to the digital single market and the market for services and energy and capital.

BEARDSLEY: German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Cameron that Britain cannot cherry-pick the terms of exit negotiations. Free access to the EU's market means accepting its rules. European Council President Donald Tusk said Europe must stick to its core values going forward. He called tolerance and the free movement of people and goods the very essence of the European Union. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Brussels. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.