The European Parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly adopted its “red lines” for tough Brexit negotiations, insisting Britain first agree divorce terms before striking a new trade deal.
The parliament, which will have the final say on any Brexit deal, became the first EU body to take a formal stand on the talks, just a week after British Prime Minister Theresa May formally triggered the process for leaving the bloc.
The vote was 516 for, 133 against and 50 abstentions.
“You will set the tone for Britain,” the bloc’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told MEPs in Strasbourg, France, just before the vote.
He said the message on phased negotiations should be that “the sooner we agree the principles of an orderly withdrawal, the sooner we can prepare our future relations in trade.”
The EU has rejected May’s call in her letter for talks on the terms of the divorce and on a future trade deal to be held in parallel.
The resolution won the backing of all the major groups in the parliament, from the conservative European People’s Party (EPP), the biggest bloc, to the Socialists and Democrats alliance, as well as the ALDE liberals, the Greens and the leftist parliamentary group GUE.