Parting woes — UK & EU

Carla Harmon
April 2, 2017

In her letter triggering the UK's formal exit from the EU, British Prime Minister Theresa May had asked for a parallel approach from the start.

May has already been accused of threatening to use the safety of United Kingdom and European citizens as a bargaining chip in Brexit talks after she warned in the formal letter notifying the EU of Britain's intention to leave that the failure to strike a deal on any future relationship would have consequences for security.

The second can only begin once the parties have made "sufficient progress" on the first, said Tusk, but both phases can take place within the two-year period set for the negotiations.

Businesses big and small are unsure how they will trade across the new EU-U.K. frontier and some three million European Union expatriates in Britain and a million or so British expatriates are unsure of their residence rights.

The EU has proclaimed its unity on Brexit, even as it reels from Britain's intention to become the first member state to leave in the bloc's 60-year history. It is also paying attention to British military bases in Cyprus and is giving Spain a special say on the fate of the British territory of Gibraltar, which is not part of the United Kingdom but is in the EU.

European Council President Tusk: The EU does not want to punish Britain for Brexit. It says rights acquired before a cutoff on the day Brexit takes effect should be retained. "It's in our interest and in the interest of others, and we hope this will be one of the planks of our deep and special partnership (with the EU)".

First negotiate the terms of Britain's departure then negotiate Britain's new deal with the European Union (which has to be carried out under the terms of another treaty article - 218 (3) - which covers negotiations between the European Union and "third countries", that is countries that are not members of the EU). Once we leave the European Union, the EEA Agreement will no longer be relevant for the UK.

"We are not bargaining security with anyone - we want to maintain the degree of cooperation on these matters that we have now".

"The European Council (EU leaders) 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.

Germany says the question of Britain's commitments toward the European Union after it leaves the bloc needs to be resolved before talks about future relations with the United Kingdom can begin.

The EU's draft Brexit guidelines were unveiled by Tusk in Malta on Friday and have been distributed to Britain's 27 EU partners.

These guidelines will be fleshed out into a more comprehensive negotiating document that will be presented to Europe's leaders at the end of April.

Delaying trade talks until after the "divorce bill" is settled also robs the Prime Minister of a potential negotiating weapon, as she will not be able to link the size of the payment to generous trading arrangements.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Friday that in calls he had made over the past two days there had been "lots of goodwill' from European Union ministers".

European Union negotiators have said the transition may extend beyond the two-year timeframe outlined in the European Union exit process because of the myriad details of trade and other aspects of the divorce.

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