The EU has defied leading leave campaigners’ expectations of disunity today by quickly and unanimously agreeing the guidelines for the upcoming #brexit negotiations. Leaders burst into applause after it took a mere 4 minutes for them to reach agreement, at a special summit in Brussels of all 27 EU leaders minus the UK.
Donald Tusk, President of the European Council highlighted that no negotiations on the future relationship with the UK will take place until sufficient progress on citizens rights, finances and the border issue in Ireland is reached. ‘Sufficient progress’ is to be defined by unanimous decision from all 27 leaders.
He said priority number one was the rights of EU citizens:
“We are talking about four and half million people, Europeans residing in the UK, and Britons living on the continent. We need real guarantees for our people to live, work and study in the UK, and the same goes for the Brits. We need a serious British response.”
“I want to assure you that as soon as the UK offers real guarantees for our citizens, we will find a solution rapidly.”
European leaders also made a declaration of support for EU membership for a united Ireland, in the event Irish reunification is ever favoured by a majority in Northern Ireland following a UK departure from the EU. This would be in line with the 1998 Northern Irish peace accord and is based on the precedent set by Germany’s reunification in 1990.
Spain has also been granted an effective veto on any future deal between Gibraltar and the EU, as was previously included in the draft guidelines.
Learn more about what else is in the EU’s #brexit guidelines at the end of this article.
UK in a dangerous state of denial
Meanwhile, EU officials expressed mounting alarm on Wednesday that UK Prime Minister Theresa May and her team are in a dangerous state of denial about the consequences of leaving the bloc.
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) April 29, 2017
The agreed guidelines, described by Tusk as ‘firm and fair’, put the EU on a crash course with UK Prime Minister Theresa May over her claim the UK will be able to maintain access to the EU’s single market, which accounts for roughly half of all UK trade, without European Court of Justice oversight.
The EU guidelines make clear the UK will not be allowed to cherry pick access to the single market and that the European Court of Justice will continue to regulate trade with the single market.
— Open Britain (@Open_Britain) April 29, 2017
The UK government is also to be denied its request for financial issues to be handled at the same time as talks on a new relationship. German Chancellor Angela Merkel dismissed this idea on Thursday, warning the UK against harbouring any “illusions” about getting favours from the EU:
Asked to respond to May’s claims on the general election campaign trail that member states were preparing to “line up to oppose us”, one senior EU diplomat said: “She’s right. She should not underestimate the commitment to unity.”
Key points from the EU’s negotiation guidelines
No cherry picking
Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed
Phased approach for UK withdrawal
Citizens rights are top priority
Seek to avoid hard border in Northern Ireland
A single financial settlement
You can view the EU’s full guidelines for brexit negotiations here.
The Romanian President moves the UK flag during his press
briefing at the EU summit this morning; #brexit in a nutshell.