EU Council Chief: Brexit Talks to Prove Difficult, 'Confrontational

Brexit What happens after Article 50

Brexit What happens after Article 50

Britain's chief negotiator in the country's divorce from the European Union on Thursday rejected suggestions that the United Kingdom has threatened to end security co-operation unless it gets a good trade deal with the bloc's remaining member countries.

The president of the European Council told a press conference in Malta that he did not believe the United Kingdom would use fighting terrorism as a "bargaining chip" in the Brexit negotiations.

The EU wants to wait until exit terms are finalised before starting trade talks.

The move flies in the face of Ms May's call for talks on withdrawal and future trade terms to start at the same time, but does leave open the possibility of them eventually taking place in tandem as long as divorce talks advance.

Estimated to be as much as €60bn, Gabriel also reminded the UK Government that it is obliged to meet its financial commitments to the EU.

The EU guidelines make clear there can be no talks on the shape of any future relationship at this stage.

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"We worry that Britain may not be able to negotiate such a bilateral deal in time for the release by airlines of summer 2019 schedules in mid-2018".

EU-UK talks could start as soon as May 22 when the bloc's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is expected to get a mandate from the EU 27, although "pre-negotiations" on the language and format of the discussions could begin sooner.

European Council President Donald Tusk said he will propose the draft negotiating guidelines to the leaders of the 27 countries that will remain in the EU when Britain leaves.

Tusk also repeated the EU's position that future relations between the United Kingdom and the bloc will be discussed only when a divorce agreement can be reached.

The 27 member states will demand that the withdrawal agreement include appropriate dispute settlement mechanisms, as well as mechanisms to deal with situations that may arise in future, and are not covered by the exit deal.

But she also reiterated her warning that failure to reach a trade deal would hamper security ties.

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Tusk spoke at a news conference in Malta on Friday after the guidelines were sent to the heads of the 27 remaining members of the European Union, reported the Independent.

Many have insisted Britain must first make good on a divorce settlement that will include it settling outstanding financial commitments - the European Union has advanced a ballpark figure of 60 billion euros ($64 billion) - agreeing new border arrangements and clarifying the rights of European Union expatriates on either side of the new frontier.

"As I have already said, in essence it is about damage control", Tusk said.

A senior EU official says it will take more than two years to hammer out all the details of Britain's departure from the European Union.

French President Francois Hollande on Thursday presented a common front with Merkel, insisting that details about the UK's withdrawal had to be agreed on first.

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