EU's Brexit rules limit talks to debts, citizens' rights

The European Union is making it legally impossible for Britain to tackle key issues like trade with its European partners until its debts have been settled.

A draft of the mandate outlining how the union will negotiate Britain's departure limits the remit of EU Brexit point-man Michel Barnier to things like safeguards for EU citizens in Britain and London's financial obligations. The draft is being made public Wednesday.

The EU lists another priority as keeping people and goods moving smoothly across the border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., and EU member Ireland.

EU states would have to approve progress on those issues before Barnier can start negotiating the outline of the bloc's future relations with Britain after it leaves in 2019.