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EU 27 united in adopting guidelines for Brexit talks

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EU 27 united in adopting guidelines for Brexit talks

Donald Tusk - photo EU Council

(BRUSSELS) - A Special European Council of 27 EU member states showed a united stance Saturday in adopting the guidelines for the upcoming Brexit negotiations with the United Kingdom.

"We now have unanimous support from all the 27 member states and the EU institutions, giving us a strong political mandate for these negotiations," said Council president Donald Tusk.

The guidelines will define the framework for the negotiations and set out the overall EU positions and principles during the talks. The European Council says it will update the guidelines in the course of the negotiations as necessary.

Mr Tusk said the main p[riority for the talks from the EU side would be to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living and working in the United Kingdom. He said the EU needed "real guarantees for our people to live, work and study in the UK," as well as for British citizens working abroad.

The European Commission has prepared a full list of rights and benefits that the EU wants to guarantee for those affected by Brexit.

The European Council highlighted the need to avoid a legal vacuum for business, and referred to a single financial settlement that should ensure the EU and the UK respect their obligations.

The Council re-iterated what it called a 'phased approach', whereby the talks would have to "first achieve sufficient progress on citizens' rights, finances and the border issue in Ireland" before moving on to negotiating the EU's future relations with the UK. An agreement could only be concluded "once the UK has become a third country."

Mr Tusk stressed that it would be for the EU leaders "to assess, and decide, if sufficient progress has been made."

In the guidelines, the European Council states that the EU27 will keep its unity and act as one during the negotiations. Leaders:

  • reiterate their wish to have the UK as a close partner
  • reiterate that any future deal will need to be based on a balance of rights and obligations and ensure a level playing field
  • stress that the integrity of the single market must be preserved, which means the four freedoms are indivisible and excludes any cherry-picking
  • state that a non-member cannot enjoy the same rights and benefits as a member

The guidelines are clear about Britain's obligations while negotiations continue. "Until it leaves the Union, the United Kingdom remains a full member of the EU, subject to all rights and obligations set out in the Treaties and under EU law. All ongoing EU business must continue to proceed as smoothly as possible at 28, and the negotiations with the United Kingdom will be kept separate from ongoing Union business, and shall not interfere with its progress."

European Council (Art. 50) guidelines for Brexit negotiations, 29/04/2017

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