In a key six-thousand-word speech, the European Union mentioned the United Kingdom once and avoided the word Brexit.
The strategy of the European Commission – Europe's leading Brexit negotiator – has been clear since the U.K. voted to leave the bloc: building a team that only deals with Brexit, redirecting all Brexit-related issues to it, and talking about all the other policies that it's trying to push forward.
Proof of this came on Wednesday in a speech delivered by the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, where he dubbed Brexit as "a sad and tragic moment." But the EU cannot draft its future without thinking about Brexit.
"On 29 March 2019, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. This will be a very sad and tragic moment. We will always regret it. But we have to respect the will of the British people," Juncker told the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
"On 30 March 2019, we will be a Union of 27. I suggest that we prepare for this moment well, amongst the 27 and within the EU institutions," he said.
For an hour, Juncker asked the 27 European countries to integrate further on all fronts before the U.K. leaves in 2019. This includes having the same rules for banks across the euro zone, all countries agreed to put an end to border controls, and where standards for products in the single market are fair across the region.