Britain launches European Union exit process

Tricia Pearson
April 1, 2017

In the document delivered yesterday to the European Union summit chair to trigger a two-year countdown to withdrawal, Britain's prime minister called for parallel negotiations on not just divorce terms but a new trade pact and special deals in key sectors.

The proposals will be sent to the governments of 27 European Union members and will help set the tone for two years of tough negotiations and efforts to finalise a deal, the report added.

But a senior Brexit negotiator from a third member state said there were differences among the 27 and some talk of a trade deal was likely fairly early on: "we would be in the camp that says to start the discussions on the future relationship as quickly as possible".

Cameron's successor Mrs May on Wednesday notified the European Council president Donald Tusk that the United Kingdom was triggering article 50.

Only once we have achieved sufficient progress on the withdrawal, can we discuss framework for the future.

"These are draft guidelines and we look forward to beginning negotiations once they have been formally agreed by the 27 member states", a United Kingdom government spokesman said Friday. Merkel also promised a "fair and constructive" approach to Brexit talks in the upcoming months.

Asked about his promise that the UK's trade deal would provide the "exact same benefits" as membership of the single market, Mr Davis said: "I make no apology for being ambitious about what we are trying to do". "Only then, later, can we talk about our future relationship", Merkel said.

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Shortly beforehand, European Union envoys from the 27 governments will meet in Brussels to study the draft guidelines.Once endorsed by leaders at a summit on April 29, these will pave the way for talks which the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier expects to start in about two months.Diplomats say they will reflect the 27's previous insistence on a "balance of rights and obligations" - notably that Britain will have less access to European Union markets if it opts out of the bloc's system of centralised rules and common budget contributions.

In other words, while talks will focus on Barnier's priorities of citizens' rights, budget obligations and border arrangements, notably in Ireland, there will have to be some idea of the future relationship to inform how those are settled. Still, the guidelines reiterate that the relationship can not have the same benefits as membership as well as stating that the future trade deal will not amount to participation of the single market or to parts of the single market.

The next stage of the Brexit process sees plans set out to repatriate more than 40 years of powers back to Westminster, with the publication of details of the Great Repeal Bill.

"We believe that the negotiations should take place in parallel", the spokesman said.

He further expressed faith in the European Union commission, convinced they will do an excellent job in preparing for negotiations with Britain.

"No one is interested in using security cooperation as a bargaining chip", Tusk said, noting that "especially" after last week's attack in Westminster, "it must be clear that terrorism and security is our common problem".

President of the European Council Donald Tusk smiles during a joint press conference with Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscan on the EU guidelines for Brexit talks, outside the Premier's office Castille, in Valletta, Malta, Friday, March 31, 2017.

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