EU's Verhofstadt Wants Brexit Deal on Citizens' Rights This Year

European Council President Donald Tusk has warned Britain that Brexit talks will not move on to setting out the U.K's future trade relationship with the EU until the bloc decides that "sufficient progress" has been made on divorce terms.

Speaking in the Maltese capital Valletta, Muscat also reiterated the EU's stance that talks over a post-Brexit free trade deal between the European Union and Britain can not begin until key issues regarding Britain's divorce have been settled.

Mogherini's comments came in response to a veiled threat from British Prime Minister Theresa May that the EU's security could be compromised if London-Brussels Brexit negotiations sour.

Britain should not expect a "UK rebate" from the European Union in talks over its exit from the bloc, Germany's foreign minister said on Thursday (30 March), in reference to a budget discount won by then-PM Margaret Thatcher.

The Taoiseach will next week seek to build on European Union commitment to protect Ireland's interests in Brexit negotiations when he meets with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday.

He added that "the EU-27 does not and will not pursue a punitive approach" because "Brexit in itself is already punitive enough". "There is no way around it." he said.

"Starting parallel talks on all issues at the same time as suggested by some in the United Kingdom will not happen", Tusk said.

The EU 27 will adopt the guidelines at a special summit on April 29.

European Council President Donald Tusk (L) speaks at a joint press conference with Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (R) in Valletta, Malta, on March 31, 2017.

The EU has reiterated in its draft guidelines document that there needs to be early guarantee on citizens' rights and on avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Negotiations on future trade relations between the United Kingdom and EU can only begin after "sufficient progress" has been made on disentangling Britain from the ties and obligations of its 44-year membership, the European Council has said.

"We will continue to play our part in ensuring that Europe remains strong and prosperous and able to lead in the world", she writes in the "Irish Times", a day after formally launching the process of the UK's exit from the EU.

But it is also open to a transitional arrangement after Brexit as a "bridge" to a future deal some years down the line, but said that it would have to be under EU rules and the European Court of Justice.

Theresa May has officially triggered Article 50, signalling the start of the official process to leave the EU.

French President Francois Hollande followed German Chancellor Angela Merkel in snubbing May's proposed structure for the negotiations, saying the exit agreement should come first.

Deutsche also criticised Mrs May's use of security intelligence as part of Britain's negotiating stance and said it is a "negative approach".

"And when talking about our future relationship, we obviously share the UK's desire to establish a close partnership between us".

  • Leroy Wright