Donald Tusk to UK: EU will set rules in divorce talks

Posted April 10, 2017

"The first phase of negotiations will aim to settle the disentanglement of the United Kingdom from the Union and from all the rights and obligations the United Kingdom derives from commitments undertaken as Member State", the document reads, and "provide as much clarity and legal certainty as possible to citizens, businesses, stakeholders and worldwide partners on the immediate effects of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the Union".

Tusk will speak alongside the Maltese premier Joseph Muscat whose government holds the bloc's rotating presidency, media reports said.

It comes after Theresa May triggered Article 50 on Wednesday with a letter calling for withdrawal and trade talks to start at the same time, while sparking anger by linking security co-operation to future trade bargaining.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "These are draft guidelines and we look forward to beginning negotiations once they have been formally agreed by the 27 member states".

In a document the leaders of the remaining 27 nation bloc said there will be no talks on the U.K.'s future relationship with the European Union until "progress" had been made on the exit.

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Let me conclude by saying that the talks which are about to start will be hard, complex and sometimes even confrontational.

The common thread running through all the columns across Germany, Italy, France, Poland, Spain and Sweden was the message that Britain's exit from the EU was not an attempt "to do harm to the European Union or any of the remaining member states".

EC president Donald Tusk said parallel talks on exit and trade terms "will not happen" until a divorce bill of up to £50 billion is settled. "There's a lot of good will, willingness to achieve what the prime minister has said she wants to achieve", he said. In her trigger letter to Tusk, May called for trade talks to move ahead "alongside" the divorce.

It is understood the guidelines contain explicit references to the Northern Irish peace process and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

He was speaking as a draft of the EU's Brexit negotiating principles was sent to European leaders.

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The government white paper "lays out a pragmatic and principled approach to converting European Union law into United Kingdom law on the day we leave the European Union, giving businesses, workers and investors as much certainty as possible", Brexit Secretary, David Davis, told parliament.

This means that businesses in the United Kingdom will officially lose access to the EU's single market on March 29, 2019 - unless they agree on a transition deal.

Guy Verhofstadt - the European Parliament's point person on Brexit matters and someone who will have a say on the final outcome - said on Thursday that "security is far too important to start to bargain it against an economic agreement".

He said the EU was drawing up its "shopping list" for the EU exit bill with things like pensions for European officials and outstanding financial commitments.

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