(Vatican Radio) The president of European Union leaders is to issue draft guidelines on how the EU intends to negotiate Britain's divorce from the bloc amid concerns that populist parties will try to trigger similar departures in other member states. European Council President Donald Tusk was due to send the proposals to the governments of the other 27 remaining EU members Friday morning, after British Prime Minister Theresa May formally triggered Britain's departure from the block, known as Brexit, by sending the Article 50 notification.
Listen to Stefan Bos' report:
Tusk's negotiating guidelines of some six or seven pages will set the tone for two years of tough talks to come.
Possibly the toughest phase of talks on a totally new relationship in the future will be the 60 billion 'divorce' bill Brussels plans to
present to London.
Another issue is securing the rights of both millions of mainly East European EU citizens in Britain and British people living in other
member states. It will also look into how to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state.
Several EU leaders first want several months of talks on a broad agreement on the terms of separation.
French President Francois Hollande has already told the British Prime Minister that the withdrawal agreement should come first.
Hollande and other European leaders say they will not allow "cherry-picking" by London.
Tusk also wants to send a clear message to euroskeptic and nationalist populist parties. "We must challenge the populists. We must say loud and clear that nationalism and separatism which try to weaken the EU are the opposite of modern patriotism," he said. "Those who want to take aim at EU unity threaten also their own communities, weakening their own state sovereignty," Tusk explained.
He earlier made clear that he is sad about Britain's planned divorce. "After all, most Europeans, including almost half the British
voters wish that we would stay together, not drift apart... And what can I add to this? We already miss you," he said.
And analysts warn that it will be a difficult transition as it involves topics of huge controversy in Britain, including freedom of movement of people and the role of the European Court of Justice.