Brexit talks will begin with both sides far from an agreement on their key objectives after the EU insisted it will only discuss a trade deal with United Kingdom once "sufficient progress" has been made on its divorce settlement. The hardline stance from the European Council (EC) in its draft negotiation guidelines gives the United Kingdom government only a slim hope of securing a vital free trade agreement before Brexit takes hold.
First, agreement on the principles for Brexit is needed and once sufficient progress is achieved, negotiations on a new relationship would be able to start, he said.
If Britain remains part of the European Union single market for a time after Brexit, it would also have to respect all "four freedoms", the document says, which would mean accepting free immigration from the continent.
It has been sent to European leaders ahead of a summit of leaders in Brussels on April 29, and will act as a framework on which the European Commission can base its detailed negotiation stance over the next two years.
"Starting parallel talks on all issues at the same time, as suggested by some in the United Kingdom, will not happen".
Several EU leaders first want several months of talks on a broad agreement on the terms of separation. "We expected robust positions to be taken at the start and let's see where we get to", a spokesman said.
By converting the body of European Union law into British legislation, May's government hopes to ease those concerns by offering that "wherever practical, the same rules and laws will apply after exit day".
The EU guidelines make clear there can be no talks on the shape of any future relationship at this stage.
"We will take control of our own laws and bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain".
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Tusk said the talks would be hard and sometimes confrontational, saying it was his "first divorce and I hope the last one".
She warned European Union leaders that failing to reach a good Brexit agreement will weaken the UK's cooperation regarding crime and security.
The text with the 26 guidelines was presented in a joint press conference in Valletta, Malta by Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and Joseph Muscat, Maltese Prime Minister on draft guidelines for the Brexit talks.
It is understood the guidelines contain explicit references to the Northern Irish peace process and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Germany says the question of Britain's commitments toward the European Union after it leaves the bloc needs to be resolved before talks about future relations with the United Kingdom can begin.
But May's warning in the letter that failure to clinch a deal on trade would affect Britain's cooperation on terrorism and security still rankled with many. Two member states did not want the letter to be made public, Sky reports.
This was echoed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and outgoing French President Francois Hollande on Thursday.
Speaking out after the Brexit negotiations began, he stood by his decision to hold the vote.