EU leaders show 'unity' announcing the bloc's Brexit negotiating stance

Tareq Haddad
tusk-calls-for-eus-unity-in-brexit-negotiations

European Union leaders have unanimously agreed the guidelines for negotiating the UK's departure from the bloc.

The 27 leaders of the remaining EU countries gathered in Brussels for a special summit to consider the drafts on Saturday (29 April), but it took them less than 15 minutes to sign off on the final agreement.

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The principles of the agreement are largely in line with proposals put forward by European Council President Donald Tusk last month, which will demand that Britain guarantees the rights of EU citizens in the UK, settlement of the divorce bill and the issue of Ireland's border before any trade agreements can be reached.

In a statement before the meeting, 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.

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"We also need solid guarantees for all citizens and their families who will be affected by Brexit, on both sides. This must be the number one priority for the EU and the UK. And the Commission has already prepared a precise and detailed list of citizens' rights we want to protect.

"And finally, we need to remain united as EU27. It is only then that we will be able to conclude the negotiations, which means that our unity is also in the UK's interest. And as for now, I feel strong support from all the EU institutions, including the European Parliament, as well as all the 27 Member States. I know this is something unique, but I am confident that it will not change."

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Tweeting following the meeting, Tusk said that the guidelines were "adopted unanimously" and that a "firm and fair political mandate" for Brexit negotiations was now established.

Among the proposals agreed, Britain's divorce bill is expected to be among the most divisive. The EU is demanding that Britain pays it €60bn (£52bn, $64bn) for past commitments it has made to the bloc, but the UK government has insisted there is no basis for payment.

The proposals are to discussed shortly after the UK's general election on 8 June.

Read the European Council's negotiating guidelines in full:

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