Brexit: EU's Tusk to issue negotiation guidelines

Another issue is securing the rights of both millions of mainly East European EU citizens in Britain and British people living in other member states.

The European Union is willing to hold trade talks before Brexit but only if there is "significant progress" on the "divorce" negotiations, including its outstanding bills being settled, draft EU guidelines released on Friday show.

The official, speaking in Brussels on Friday, said European Union leaders should adopt the final mandate to begin the negotiations shortly after May 22, after Britain formally triggered the process this week.

Brexit negotiators from the United Kingdom and the European Union should prioritize an agreement on the rights of EU citizens in Britain and Britons overseas before turning to issues such as the U.K.'s exit bill, Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's point person on Brexit matters, said.

Hollande has joined forces with Angela Merkel by rejecting UK Prime Minister Theresa May's request that Brexit talks can run parallel to negotiations over a future trade deal.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who is the incumbent rotating EU President, appeared alongside Tusk at the conference and said the Brexit negotiations will be tough but "it will not be a war".

"The EU is not adopting a punitive approach to Brexit, as Brexit is punitive enough", he said.

"But we need to settle their status and situations after the withdrawal with reciprocal, enforceable and non-discriminatory guarantees", he said.

The 27 European Union states will decide if sufficient progress has been achieved, probably by autumn, he added.

Drugmakers are concerned that Brexit will mean the United Kingdom leaves the EU-wide European Medicines Agency, forcing the creation of a separate British system for drug approvals.

And when it comes to the U.K.'s land border in Ireland, which is key to the Northern Ireland peace process, Tusk's draft guideline says that "flexible and imaginative solutions will be required".

"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".

Juncker has been irked that Trump "was happy that Brexit was taking place and has asked other countries to do the same" and advised that every leader should focus on his or her own job ahead.

"I find the letter of Mrs May very constructive, generally, but there is also one threat in it, in saying "look, we want also to co-operate with you on security issues in our common fight against terrorism but you have to give us a good deal on trade and economy".

"That negotiation is led exclusively from the European side by [European Commission negotiator] Michel Barnier", he said, adding that this was a "clear demarcation line".

The U.K. government on Wednesday officially began the process of leaving the European Union, more than nine months after the electorate voted for Brexit. In near-identical pieces, she said security cooperation remained vital, but indicated it would be part of the new discussions.

  • Carolyn Briggs