The European Union demands that Britain make “sufficient progress” on its withdrawal from the EU before talks on a trade deal can start as it lays out its tough Brexit negotiating plans.
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LONDON — The European Union laid out its next steps for negotiating Brexit on Friday, suggesting that talks on a new free trade agreement could begin even before the United Kingdom leaves the bloc.
European Council President Donald Tusk said he will propose the draft negotiating guidelines to the leaders of the 27 countries that will remain in the EU when Britain leaves. The leaders, who will meet at a summit on April 29, must approve the proposals. The EU and Britain have two years to negotiate the terms of Brexit.
The draft guidelines suggest discussions on a new trade agreement after Britain exits the single market — which allows EU members to trade with each other without restrictions — could begin within two years.
“The British government has indicated that it will not seek to remain in the single market, but would like to pursue an ambitious free trade agreement with the European Union. Based on the Union’s interests, the European Council stands ready to initiate work towards such an agreement, to be finalised and concluded once the United Kingdom is no longer a Member State,” the draft document says.
The United Kingdom formally began its exit from the bloc on Wednesday. Tusk had 48 hours to respond to the notification of withdrawal.
“Our duty is to minimise the uncertainty and disruption caused by the UK decision to withdraw from the EU for our citizens, businesses and Member States,” Tusk said in a statement Friday. “As…