Early Brexit talks should focus on fate of overseas citizens - UK
The UK wants the future of its citizens living abroad - and European citizens living in Britain - to be clarified early on in Brexit talks.
British Pime Minister Theresa May told EU leaders at a summit in Brussels yesterday that the issue was a priority for her.
"She would like to have the question of UK citizens living in Europe and European citizens living in the UK dealt with in the early part of discussions that will take place," said Taoiseach Enda Kenny after the meeting.
EU leaders have pledged not to enter talks with the UK until it officially notifies the EU of its intention to leave, which Ms May has indicated she will do by end-March 2017.
That will kick-start two years of talks on a divorce settlement, including the UK's pension and other financial obligations to the EU and how to extricate itself from a plethora of EU laws.
"We will be leaving the EU; we want that to be as smooth and orderly a process as possible," Ms May said. "It's not only in our interest, it's in the interests of the rest of Europe as well."
But Mr Kenny said Brexit would take longer than the two-year timescale because of the complexity of EU legislation.
"Fifty years of legislation, directives and so on will probably be very difficult to deal with inside a two-year period," he said.
Following the summit, EU leaders met minus the UK to discuss procedural matters.
"There wasn't any discussion about trading relationships, about extensions of time or transition periods - two or 10 years or anything like that," Mr Kenny said.
"Until it becomes clear as to what sort of relationship the United Kingdom actually wants to have with the future European Union, it's then that you can make decisions and negotiate on those decisions."
It's the second time the 27 prime ministers and presidents have met alone since the UK voted to leave the EU in June.