BRUSSELS, March 9 The European Union and Britain
should first strike a deal on the terms of Brexit and then
proceed to discuss future bilateral relations, European
Parliament President Antonio Tajani said on Thursday.
Britain has said it would prefer parallel talks on its
divorce terms, likely to include a bill to pay and the issue of
citizens' rights, and its future trade and economic relations
with the 27 EU countries.
The EU legislature will have to approve any deal with
Britain after it quits the EU and will be involved in the Brexit
negotiations once London triggers the talks in the coming weeks.
"Before we need to decide the Brexit, and then we will work
for a good agreement between us and the UK," Antonio Tajani, an
Italian conservative, told a news conference in Brussels after
briefing EU leaders at a summit on the parliament's views about
Tajani, a close ally of former Italian prime minister Silvio
Berlusconi, was elected European Parliament president in January
for two and a half years with the backing of British
Conservative MEPs -- a mandate that may help him to play a key
role in the two-year Brexit talks.
He said the Parliament wants to be a "protagonist" during
the talks and would have officials briefing him from the EU
negotiating team led by Frenchman Michel Barnier.
The European Parliament will agree its negotiating position
after Britain triggers the Brexit talks, Tajani said.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, who attended Thursday's
summit, plans to formally launch the process before the end of
Former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt leads the
European Parliament's Brexit team.
"The UK in the future will be an important, one of the most
important, interlocutors of the EU," Tajani said, noting that
being outside the EU was however not the same as being a member.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Gareth Jones)