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EU parliament says no Brexit deal without safeguarding citizens' rights

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Parliament, which will have to sign off on any Brexit deal, outlined its stance for the talks on Wednesday, saying safeguarding citizens’ rights was an absolute priority.

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt also told a news conference the European Union would not accept it if London started bilateral trade talks with members of the bloc before formally leaving the EU in two year’s time.

Tajani said orderly divorce talks were a precondition for any good future partnership between the EU of 27 and London, and that “not reaching a deal on citizens’ rights means not reaching a deal at all.”

Verhofstadt said Britain should in the future develop an association agreement with the EU and that the transition periods on certain aspects of the divorce should be three years.

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska