London: The 27 remaining member states of the European Union on Monday voted to formally authorise the start of Brexit negotiations with Britain.
In addition, they ratified the appointment of former European Commissioner Michel Barnier as chief negotiator for Brexit, a capacity in which he had been serving since December 2016.
"We are very well prepared for these negotiations and the remarkable thing is that we are unified at 27," said Malta's Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech during a press conference after the vote.
The General Affairs Council (GAC), a configuration of the Council of the EU, passed the two directives by unanimity. It is a body made up of the member states' European affairs ministers, Efe news reported.
The first directive authorized the European Commission to initiate Brexit negotiations, while the second formalised Barnier's accession to the post of European Chief Negotiator.
The GAC also began preparations for the upcoming 27-country summit due to start on June 19 that is set to review the negotiation guidelines.
Bernier said he hoped to start negotiations "as soon as possible" after Britain's general elections scheduled for June 8.
He added that he would publish a preliminary report detailing the progress made in the negotiations on June 22, almost one year after the referendum in which 51.9 per cent of British voters opted to leave the EU.
Updated Date: May 22, 2017 19:29:28 IST