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Fast Facts: What to know about Britain's divorce of the EU

Fast Facts: What to know about Britain's divorce of the EU

The European Union's remaining 27 member states are set to embed in their Brexit negotiating guidelines that trade talks with the United Kingdom can only begin once there is clarity on the terms of an orderly withdrawal, according to a draft circulated among Europe's capitals.

The European Council President's nine-page document states that there must be "sufficient progress" on withdrawal talks - including a "divorce bill" potentially running as high as £50bn - before negotiations on future relations begin.

One of Britain's priorities during Brexit talks is guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens working in the United Kingdom and those of United Kingdom citizens working in the European Union, Iain Lindsay told public television later on Thursday.

Going into the two-year negotiation period triggered by Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (official process to leave the EU), the European Union would think of the people first, Tusk said.

These include paying tens of billions of euros and giving residence rights to some three million EU citizens in Britain, according to the proposed negotiating objectives distributed by EU summit chair Donald Tusk to Britain's 27 EU partners.

"The talks which are about to start will be hard, complex and sometimes even confrontational", Tusk said proposing draft guidelines for Brexit talks.

Brexit Secretary David Davis said the Great Repeal Bill would allow the UK Parliament and Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland administrations to scrap, amend and improve laws.

"I can guarantee that the European Union, on our part, will honour all our commitments".

But that concession to British Prime Minister Theresa May two days after she triggered a two-year countdown to withdrawal was accompanied by elements in the draft that May might find less palatable.

A majority of Britons voted to leave the European Union at a referendum in June. It will be sent to the 27 remaining member states for approval.

Ms Merkel said she wants the Britain and the European Union to remain close partners but added that the negotiation must focus first on disentangling the close links developed in 44 years of European Union membership.

Unless the United Kingdom government manages to negotiate a new bilateral flights agreement with the EU soon, United Kingdom carriers will have no right to fly to Europe and European airlines won't be allowed to fly to the UK.

The EU Council President made it clear that talks on the UK's future relationship with the EU would only start once "sufficient" progress were achieved on these guidelines.

"We must stay friends", he said.

But the bloc insisted that it would have to be under EU rules and the European Court of Justice, a politically toxic condition in Britain give that national sovereignty was a key issue in the Brexit referendum.

"It is only fair towards all those people, communities, scientists, farmers and so on to whom we, all the 28, promised and owe this money", Tusk said.

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