EU leaders agree on negotiating stance for Brexit talks in record 4 minutes
The talks to approve the guidelines were chaired by European Council President Donald Tusk on Saturday. The special summit, which was attended by the leaders of the 27 member states, took less than 15 minutes to unanimously agree upon the guidelines, which Tusk issued last month.
After the talks, Tusk tweeted that a “firm and fair political mandate” for the talks was ready.
The negotiations will begin after the UK’s general election on June 8.
Speaking before the talks Tusk said: “We all want a close and strong future relationship with the UK. There's absolutely no question about it. But before discussing the future, we have to sort out our past."
"We will handle it with genuine care, but firmly. This is, I think, the only possible way to move forward.”
Key issues are expected to focus on citizens’ rights, the border on the island of Ireland, and outstanding bills.
Additionally, the 27 leaders voted to support automatic union membership for Northern Ireland should it ever vote to unify with the Republic of Ireland. They also backed Spain having a veto on any deal that concerns Gibraltar.
French President Francois Hollande warned that there will be a “price and a cost for the UK – it’s the choice that was made.”
“We must not be punitive, but at the same time it’s clear that Europe knows how to defend its interests, and that Britain, the UK, will have a less good position tomorrow outside the EU than today in the EU,” Hollande said according to the BBC.
President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker has called on the UK to stop blocking EU spending, saying it would help the negotiations. He also said that some in Britain underestimate the difficulties that will be involved in coming to an agreement, according to Reuters.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a press conference on Saturday that the EU wants good relations with the UK in the future, “but we also want to represent our interests.”
She also stressed that there is no alliance against the UK.
“[It’s] very natural that we 27 now want to speak with one voice. [That] doesn’t mean we have an alliance against the UK,” Merkel said, adding that the bloc needs a better understanding of what the UK wants before it can negotiate a trade deal.