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EU Votes Unanimously to Accept Brexit Guidelines

  • VOA News

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel speaks with reporters as he arrives for an EU summit in Brussels, April 29, 2017.

The European Union has voted unanimously to adopt guidelines to negotiate Britain's exit from the bloc, the chairman of a special EU summit said Saturday.

"Guidelines adopted unanimously. [The] EU-27's firm and fair political mandate for the Brexit talks is ready," said Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, who tweeted from the summit where EU leaders met in Brussels without British Prime Minister Theresa May.

The leaders of the EU's 27 remaining countries voted to approve the guidelines in less than 15 minutes.

Talks with Britain will begin shortly after its general elections on June 8.

These talks will focus on issues such as the welfare of EU citizens and families living in the U.K., as well as the question of the country's financial dues to the bloc. The EU insists that the U.K. bear all financial responsibility for its withdrawal from the bloc — a bill that could reach $65 billion.

The specific bill is one of many points of contention between the U.K. and the EU. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker complained Saturday that the U.K. was blocking the EU's long-term budget plans.

"It would be good and it would make the start of the talks easier if Britain could lift its objection,'' Juncker said.

The relatively short summit was held exactly one month after May triggered two years of exit talks following a British referendum decision to leave the EU on June 23, 2016.

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