European Union leaders have unanimously agreed on the guidelines that the bloc will follow when negotiating with the UK over its exit from the union.
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.”
The guidelines indicate that the union is willing to hold talks on a future trade deal with the UK before Brexit is complete only if there is “significant progress” on the “divorce negotiations.”
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.