British Prime Minister Theresa May wants an early deal on Britons living in the European Union countries, the media reported today. She said as much while updating her fellow leaders attending the European Council summit meeting in Brussels on Thursday.
May left the meeting without answering any questions on Britain's break with the EU. However, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny revealed what May told them.
Kenny said, ''She would like to have the question of British citizens living in Europe and European citizens living in the UK dealt with in the early part of discussions that takes place.'' Kenny said Ireland would not sign a bilateral deal with Britain unless it agreed on its future relationship with the EU first.
There was concern in other countries about the status of their nationals in Britain after Brexit. Meanwhile, EU leaders said negotiations over Britain's exit would be approached in ''a spirit of trust and unity''. After May's departure, the 27 other EU leaders met informally for 20 minutes to discuss their approach to Brexit negotiations.
They agreed that European Commission official Michel Barnier would lead talks for the EU - although MEPs want a greater say. European Council president Donald Tusk said, ''Short, informal meeting had reconfirmed our principles, meaning the indivisibility of the four freedoms, the balance of rights and obligations and the rule 'no negotiations without notification'.''
European Parliament President Martin Schulz warned the negotiations could be vetoed if MEPs are not fully involved. Downing Street had played down suggestions that a Brexit trade deal could take 10 years to complete, after Britain's ambassador to the EU, Sir Ivan Rogers, suggested that others in the Europe believed this could be the case.