European Council president Donald Tusk will meet British prime minister Theresa May in London today, the first such meeting after after May formally began Britain’s divorce from the European Union on March 29.
The meeting at May’s Downing Street office, at 1 p.m. London time, will give the pair the chance to discuss how negotiations will proceed. Publicly, both the prime minister and the European Council president have said they want to maintain good relations after Britain departs. But they disagree about the order in which things should be discussed.
The meeting comes after the European Parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly adopted tough “red lines” for the Brexit negotiations, saying the divorce terms must be agreed first before any talk of a new trade deal.
The parliament largely followed Tusk’s own draft guidelines issued last week after May formally triggered the historic Brexit process.
In draft guidelines circulated to the bloc’s 27 other capitals on Friday, Tusk said a free-trade agreement can only be finalized after the U.K. has left the bloc. He said later that he hoped that “sufficient progress” will be made by this fall to allow preliminary trade discussions to start. May wants parallel talks on the exit and future relationship.
Another sticking point is whether security cooperation should be part of the negotiations. May insisted this week that she had been right to raise the issue when she triggered Brexit, because it was important to establish how systems would work once the U.K. has left the EU. But Tusk has said he won’t allow it to be a bargaining chip for a trade deal.
May has also said she wants an early agreement to secure the rights of EU citizens in the U.K. and those of British citizens in the EU.