EU demands ‘sufficient progress’ on Brexit divorce before new talks

Donald Tusk European Council President Donald Tusk

EU president Donald Tusk on Friday revealed his plans for Brexit, rejecting British Prime Minister Theresa May’s demands for talks on the divorce and a future relationship to start in parallel.

The draft guidelines obtained by AFP called for a “phased approach” that prioritises an orderly withdrawal reducing the disruption caused by Britain’s departure in March 2019.

“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,” the draft guidelines say.

The draft guidelines, which will now be sent to the 27 leaders, come two days after May formally notified the EU about Britain’s intention to withdraw from the bloc in two years.

The EU says no deal on a future trade relationship can be signed before it leaves in 2019, but that talks on a “framework” for new ties can begin once the divorce settlement is agreed.

It said the “negotiations may also seek to determine transitional arrangements, which are in the interest of the Union and, as appropriate, to provide for bridges towards the foreseeable framework for the future relationship.”

But those would have to be for a limited time and be under EU rules, with “existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory and enforcement instruments and structures to apply”.

The EU said it will do its utmost to reach a “constructive” Brexit settlement, but will also prepare for a possible failure to agree.

The bloc “will prepare itself to be able to handle the situation also if the negotiations were to fail”, the guidelines said.