Remarks by President Tusk on the Special European Council (Art.50) of 29 April 2017
European Council President Spokesperson
First of all, I want to underline the outstanding unity of all the 27 leaders on the guidelines for our negotiations with the UK. They were adopted immediately after we started the summit, which bodes well for the negotiations. We now have unanimous support from all the 27 Member States and the EU institutions, giving us a strong political mandate for these negotiations. Here I would like to thank the whole team who worked hard to prepare the guidelines, especially Secretary-General Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, Piotr Serafin and Didier Seeuws.
We are united not only on the substance, but also on the method of conducting the Brexit talks. I am referring here to the so-called phased approach, accepted by the leaders today. This means that before negotiating our future relations with the UK, we must first achieve sufficient progress on citizens' rights, finances and the border issue in Ireland. It is too early to speculate on when this might happen. However, it is important to highlight that it will be for the EU leaders to assess, and decide, if sufficient progress has been made. And this will be a unanimous decision of all the 27 heads.
Let me now focus on our priority number one, namely citizens, whose rights we want to respect and secure in the first place. Today's discussion made clear that when it comes to reaching a decision on citizens' rights, not only speed is of the essence - but above all, quality, as so many people's lives depend on it. We are talking about four and a half million people: Europeans residing in the UK, and Britons living on the continent. Over the past weeks, we have repeatedly heard from our British friends - also during my visit in London - that they are ready to agree on this issue quickly. But I would like to state very clearly that we need real guarantees for our people to live, work and study in the UK, and the same goes for the British. The Commission has prepared a full list of rights and benefits that we want to guarantee for those affected by Brexit. In order to achieve sufficient progress, 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.