European Union demands progress on Brexit divorce before trade talks

03 April, 2017, 01:47 | Author: Patsy Dennis
  • Brexit What happens after Article 50

The guidelines say it is a priority to settle questions about British and other European citizens living in each other's countries, and call for "flexible and imaginative solutions" for the issue of the U.K.'s land border with EU member Ireland.

The official also said that only a summit of all remaining 27 European Union leaders can decide when there is enough progress on the withdrawal talks to start looking at a future relationship between Britain and the EU.

It said the "negotiations may also seek to determine transitional arrangements, which are in the interest of the Union and, as appropriate, to provide for bridges towards the foreseeable framework for the future relationship".

The UK must settle its Brexit bill and reach agreement on the rights of European Union citizens living in Britain before negotiations can move forward to trade talks, under guidelines set out in Brussels' approach to the upcoming discussions.

Brussels has estimated that Britain might owe it something of the order of 60 billion euros on departure, although it says the actual number can not be calculated until it actually leaves.

Spain must have a say over whether any deal after Brexit applies to the British territory of Gibraltar, over which London and Madrid have rowed for 300 years, the European Union guidelines said.

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The European Council offered what EU sources described as a "carrot" with a two-phase approach: progress on divorce terms first, then trade talks.

The tiny British overseas territory on Spain's southern tip has always been the subject of an acrimonious sovereignty row between London and Madrid, which wants Gibraltar back after it was ceded to Britain in 1713.

The British government gave a cautious welcome to the guidelines, which open the way for talks on a future trade agreement to begin once "sufficient progress" has been made on the terms of Britain's withdrawal.

Speaking Friday at a press conference in Malta, Tusk said coming negotiations over two years on Britain's exit will be "difficult, complex and sometimes even confrontational".

"As I have already said, in essence it is about damage control", Tusk said.

Tusk also warned British prime minister Theresa May, who he will meet next month, against trying to use security cooperation as a tool to obtain a better economic deal with the EU.

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The European Council president said parallel discussion on Brexit divorce and trade 'will not happen'.

"We really are moving forward now. There's a lot of good will, willingness to achieve what the Prime Minister has said she wants to achieve", he said.

The guidelines represent the Council's formal response to Mrs May's letter on Wednesday notifying Brussels of the UK's intention to quit under Article 50.

Setting out the guidelines, Tusk said it was "only fair" that the United Kingdom should honor the financial promises it made as part of the 28-member bloc.

The issue of Northern Ireland will also be given special consideration in order to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland and ensure peace and stability is maintained, he said.

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