Either they were so sure of the contents, or they want to simply get it over and done with the fastest possible time, or they want to send a message. The EU 27 have unanimously agreed to approve the guidelines for the incoming negotiations with the UK on Brexit in a record time of ' one minute'. The meeting ended in spontaneous applause as the draft guidelines published weeks ago were quickly ratified without any changes.
EU Council President Donald Tusk took to Twitter to declare that guidelines were adopted unanimously. He also said that EU27's "firm and fair political mandate" for the Brexit talks is ready. French President Francois Hollande talked tough, however, as he warned that the UK must "pay the price" for its decision to leave the European Union. Hollande said they must not focus on the "punishments" for Britain but he said that Europe knows how to defend its interests, and that Britain will have a less good position outside the EU than in the EU.
Hollande also dismissed the idea that British Prime Minister Theresa May could strengthen her negotiating hand by virtue of the election she had just called in the UK. Hollande said the election will not influence the EU. He stressed that EU's principles and objectives are already fixed, and negotiators for the Brexit will uphold such lines. Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said for his part that May's decision is an internal, and not international concern. He said May is interested not with a " hard" or "soft" Brexit, but a "Theresa's Brexit." He also said that the EU remains united.
EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michael Barnier echoed Bettel's sentiments and also said that it was in Britain's interests for the EU to be unified, so there would be greater chances for EU and UK to arrive at a deal.
Tusk, arriving at a special summit in Brussels, said that the EU must first focus on the terms of Britain's exit from the EU, the status of EU nationals in the UK, and the status of Northern Ireland, before even considering any future trading arrangements. It is expected that there would be no big changes in the final framework, with the EU 27 expected to remain firmly committed to a "phased" approach to negotiations. Tusk insisted "significant progress" must be made on getting UK out from its ties and obligations to EU first before discussions can move to the post-Brexit relations.
Tusk spoke strongly about the priority on the need for solid guarantees for all citizens and their families who will be affected by Brexit on both sides. He said the Commission has already prepared a precise and detailed list of citizens' rights that they want to protect.