European Union leaders adopt guidelines on Brexit negotiations with Britain

European Union leaders adopt guidelines on Brexit negotiations with Britain”

European Council president Donald Tusk has called on the EU nations to stay united as they prepare for Brexit negotiations with the UK.

European Council President Donald Tusk shows British PM Theresa May's Brexit letter in notice of the UK's intention to leave the bloc under Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty in Brussels March 29, 2017.

The EU guidelines say that only when "sufficient progress" has been made on divorce issues can trade talks begin, with sources saying they hope to do that by the end of the year.

The 27 European Union leaders in Brussels finalized the cornerstones of their negotiating stance within minutes of starting a short summit, a month after the British leader triggered two years of exit talks on March 29. Once that paper is agreed, talks can officially begin, though they are unlikely to get going until after the United Kingdom election on June 8.

President Tusk thanked the Secretary-General of the Council Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen and his Head of Cabinet Piotr Serafin for putting the negotiating guidelines together, that made possible the unanimous agreement in just four minutes.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker already complained Saturday that "Britain now blocks the decision-making" on a review of the EU's long-term budget.

"We want to be partners, but we also want to defend our interests", Merkel said in an interview with German broadcaster NDR on Thursday.

Earlier in the day European Union leaders endorsed stiff divorce terms for Britain on Saturday and warned Britons to have "no illusions" about swiftly securing a new relationship to keep their access to European Union markets.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says Britain now blocks the decision-making on a review of the EU's long-term budget, and he sees a link with the upcoming talks.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said: "They are maybe not any more in our family but they are still our neighbours so we should have respect for each other".

To kick off the negotiations with Britain, Tusk wants to center on the millions of people living in each other's nations who would be immediately affected.

Mr Kenny said the declaration on Irish unity, in which the European Union affirmed that in the event of a successful referendum on a united Ireland, Northern Ireland would automatically rejoin the European Union, was hugely important.

European leaders have endorsed a joint negotiating position on Brexit, including the controversial Spanish veto over the application of any future U.K./EU trade deal to Gibraltar. The officials asked not to be identified because the summit of 27 leaders still was being prepared.

Wolfgang Schaeuble said: "There is no free lunch".

He said: "We can see with the Brexit affair, there is no more protection, no more guarantees, no more internal market". It will be their first meeting since British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered the official withdrawal process a month ago.

With discussions with Britain due to take place over the next two years, the European Union is aware that maintaining a united front among the 27 remaining members could be hard.

Tusk said Europeans needed "solid guarantees for citizens and their families, who will be affected by Brexit on both sides - this must be number-one priority for EU and the United Kingdom". "This must be the No. 1 priority".

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