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EU draft guidelines soften line on future UK relationship

14 April, 2017, 10:40 | Author: Paula Vaughn
  • Brexit Day saw the FTSE make early gains

But once there is a tentative consensus between the two sides on major topics - the treatment of citizens in each other's nations, billions in budget commitments, legal clarity for companies working in Britain and a solution for Ireland's border with the United Kingdom - the European Union says it would be willing to look ahead.

"While a relationship between the Union and a non-Member State can not offer the same benefits as a Union membership", reads the draft, "strong and constructive ties will remain both sides' interests and should encompass more than just trade".

However German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen insisted it was in both sides "mutual interest" to continue intelligence-sharing and that it would not be a major element in the negotiations.

Speaking after the release of the Council's draft negotiating guidelines Friday morning he adopted an uncompromising stance on the U.K.'s preference to hold discussions on the divorce and future trade in parallel.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said Theresa May had been "taken to Tusk", as the guidelines showed "the strength of the EU in these negotiations and the carelessness of the UK Government in isolating themselves from our European allies".

Media captionBrexit divorce: "conscious uncoupling" or bitter breakup?

The draft proposes three strands of talks - on separation, the future relationship, and on transition - and will have to be approved by European Union leaders at the end of April.

But that leaves only 10 months before October 2018 when Barnier says the talks must wrap up to give time for the European Parliament and member states to approve what the negotiators come up with. With this in mind, we must proceed according to a phased approach giving priority to an orderly withdrawal.

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"And when talking about our future relationship, we obviously share the UK's desire to establish a close partnership between us". Estimates have suggested Britain could have to stump up as much as €60bn (£51bn).

Once again promising to "represent every person in the whole United Kingdom" during the coming negotiations with the EU, May reiterated her position over a second Scottish independence referendum. IT would also look for "flexible and creative" solutions aimed at avoiding a hard border between the Republic of Ireland (an European Union member state) and Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom).

What about future ties on security?

Mr Tusk's document said: "In these negotiations the Union will act as one".

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.

This is start of two year, cross-Channel political roller-coaster ride.

Johnson, speaking in Brussels upon arrival for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting Friday, said he has had good feedback from partners since Wednesday's British announcement, despite worries on both sides of the Channel about Brexit.

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