THE EU is ready for “constructive” Brexit negotiations as Theresa May prepares to trigger Article 50.
A draft response to Theresa May’s letter, which will be handed to European Council President Donald Tusk this afternoon, reveals the remaining EU27 wants to have the UK “as a close partner in the future”.
Britain’s ambassador to the EU Tim Barrow will deliver the letter of several pages at about 12.20pm today.
They think it will offer a positive tone on talks and recap the Prime Minister’s 12 point Brexit plan.
At about 12.45pm, the Donald Tusk will respond, followed by Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and Joseph Muscat, the current president of the EU council of members.
It is thought Brexit leaders will make four succinct points starting with “We regret that you’ll leave but we are ready” for negotiations.
The EU27 will clarify the next step which will see all remaining member states agree on the political guidelines for the European Commission, which will lead Brexit talks.
The EU27 leaders will meet on April 29 at an extraordinary European Council summit to agree a mandate for chief negotiator Michel Barnier and clear the way for talks to begin in earnest in May.
In a warning shot, the leaders are expected to say “the Union will act as one” in a continued pledge of unity in an attempt to dissuade London from targeting individual member states in an effort to secure the rights of EU nationals.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly vowed to seek the earliest possible agreement to secure the status of EU nationals living in the UK and that of UK nationals living in the EU.
The statement is expected to end with a promise to be constructive as Brussels prepares to rebuild itself with 27 members and get on with Brexit.
A draft of the European Council statement seen by Euractiv says: “These guidelines will set out the overall positions and principles in light of which the Union, represented by the European Commission, will negotiate with the United Kingdom.”
The draft says the bloc will act “as one” and focus on the status of EU nationals as a priority, saying: “Therefore, we will start by focusing on all key arrangements for an orderly withdrawal.
“We will approach these talks constructively and strive to find an agreement. In the future, we hope to have the United Kingdom as a close partner.”
The draft adds if talks fail the European Council would make sure that the “European Union is ready for such an outcome even though we do not desire it”.
British Ambassador to the European Union Tim Barrow arrives at the EU Council in Brussels
A leaked copy of the European Parliament declaration sees the EU warn the PM that a transitional deal should take no longer than three years.
The leaked draft says Brexit is “an unprecedented and regrettable event” and stresses Britain’s exit from the bloc “must be arranged in an orderly fashion so as not to negatively affect the European Union, its citizens and the process of European integration”.
Mrs May is warned a future relationship agreement between the EU and the UK “can only be concluded once the United Kingdom has withdrawn from the EU”.
Revealing their hand, the European Parliament draft warns if Britain attempts to negotiate free trade deals with other countries while still a member of the EU, then any future discussions of a trade deal with the bloc will be stopped.
Last night Mrs May signed the letter to start the exit process and she will address the House of Commons later today.
The PM will tell the Commons she will represent “every person in the UK”, including EU nationals, when she takes to the negotiating table.
She will say: “It is my fierce determination to get the right deal for every single person in this country.
“For, as we face the opportunities ahead of us on this momentous journey, our shared values, interests and ambitions can, and must, bring us together.
“We all want to see a Britain that is stronger than it is today. We all want a country that is fairer so that everyone has the chance to succeed.
“We all want a nation that is safe and secure for our children and grandchildren.
“We all want to live in a truly global Britain that gets out and builds relationships with old friends and new allies around the world.
“These are the ambitions of this Government’s plan for Britain. Ambitions that unite us, so that we are no longer defined by the vote we cast, but by our determination to make a success of the result.
“We are one great union of people and nations with a proud history and a bright future. And, now that the decision has been made to leave the EU, it is time to come together.”
Key EU figures agreed to enter into Brexit talks in a “positive spirit” during a series of telephone calls with Mrs May on Tuesday evening.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr Tusk and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the UK would remain a “close and committed ally”.
On Thursday, a white paper will be produced on the Great Repeal Bill, the legislation that will turn four decades of EU regulations into domestic laws.