Thursday, 27 April, 2017

United Kingdom told settle divorce bill before talking trade deals — Brexit EU guidelines

Reuters Reuters
Jeannie Matthews | 03 April, 2017, 03:53

Tusk's strategy will now be sent out to the leaders of the 27 remaining European Union countries ahead of a special summit on April 29 when they will agree on them so that talks can start in May.

Prime Minister Theresa May triggered the two-year breakup process in a six-page letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk, vowing that the United Kingdom will maintain a "deep and special partnership" with its neighbors in the bloc.

However, the British PM, along with discussing Brexit negotiations, also wants to hold talks about the UK's future trading relationship with the European Union within the two-year period.

He added: "Our partners are wise and decent partners and this is why I'm absolutely sure that no-one is interested in using security co-operation as a bargaining chip".

Tusk said Brussels' second duty was "to prevent a legal vacuum for our companies that stems from the fact that after Brexit the European Union laws will no longer apply to the U.K".

To the 27, because from Wednesday, after triggering Article 50, the United Kingdom is now on the other side of the negotiating table.

While U.K. Brexit Secretary David Davis's main EU counterpart is Michel Barnier, Verhofstadt is influential because the EU Parliament will have a say on the final Brexit deal.

The EU's duty is to minimize the uncertainty and disruption caused by Brexit for European citizens, businesses and member states, President of the European Council Donald Tusk said on Friday.

He reiterated that May was aiming for a comprehensive deal, with trade and security as part of a whole package.

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European Parliament chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt told Sky News the warning amounted to a "threat" and was unacceptable.

But the draft negotiating guidelines released Friday set out a "phased approach" to the talks from the EU27.

'We already miss you, ' Tusk said. "There's a lot of good will, willingness to achieve what the Prime Minister has said she wants to achieve", he said.

"The European Council will monitor progress closely and determine when sufficient progress has been achieved to allow negotiations to proceed to the next phase on a future relationship", the draft guidelines say.

This includes dealing with Britain's existing commitments to the European Union; providing clarity and legal certainty to European Union citizens, businesses and other stakeholders; and "creative and flexible" solutions to avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

"You can not use the security of our citizens in a negotiation and say 'oh, yeah, we're going to only cooperate on the security of our citizens in the fight against terrorism if we have a good trade deal,"' he said.

"We really are moving forward now".

After May triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on Wednesday (March 29), Britain now has two years to negotiate the terms and separate itself from the EU.

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