Published: Sun, April 02, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Brexit: EU's Tusk to issue negotiation guidelines

Brexit: EU's Tusk to issue negotiation guidelines

European Council President Donald Tusk has said the EU will not punish Britain, because Brexit is "punishment enough", as he released a set of draft guidelines on Friday for the two-year Brexit negotiations. The remaining 27 countries want the negotiations to focus first and foremost on how the leaving and only after that to agree on how they will cooperate in the future.

European Union member states have been united on the question of money and that an agreement must be reached on how to calculate Britain's liabilities before engaging in a discussions of the future trade relationship.

The guidelines say it is a priority to settle questions about British and other European citizens living in each other's countries, and call for "flexible and imaginative solutions" for the issue of the U.K.'s land border with EU member Ireland.

A senior European Union diplomat likened the insistence on sequencing to the repetition by the 27 since Britain's referendum that there could be "no negotiation before notification" - a stance they believe forced May to accept the two-year deadline set by Article 50, which she might otherwise have tried to avoid.

"The EU 27 does not and will not pursue a punitive approach".

Tusk was speaking alongside Maltese President Joseph Muscat earlier on Friday in Valletta, Malta.

The unprecedented decision to withdraw creates "significant uncertainties that have the potential to cause disruption, in particular in the United Kingdom but also in other member states", said the draft guidelines unveiled by Mr Tusk.

"We want to talk about fairness and commitment", he said.

The UK will officially leave the European Union on 29 March 2019, regardless of whether an exit deal has been agreed or not.

Several decades of joint work are at stake and it is a common interest that relations should remain good after Britain's exit from the bloc, he said, adding that for this reason it was important that negotiations should be pragmatic.

In a sign of the bloc's determination to secure a "divorce bill" from Britain, he said: "We will need to make sure that Britain honours all financial commitments and liabilities it has taken as a member state".

European Union president Donald Tusk's draft guidelines say the other 27 countries are ready for a transitional deal after Britain's exit in March 2019, but that such an arrangement would have to be under European Union rules. "In fact, we must have some discussion about the future trading relationship from the start, even if it's not negotiation".

Concluding his brief remarks to the media in Brussels, Tusk said he had little to add about Britain: "What can I add to this?"

"The numbers with which the United Kingdom is now contributing ... is not that big as to create a challenge for the European Union in the future", Mogherini said, adding, "So leverage in that respect will be really minimal on their side".

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