Britain and the EU have agreed to a draft text setting out a close post-Brexit economic relationship, paving the way for a summit of EU leaders to endorse the deal, European Council President Donald Tusk said yesterday.
Britain is scheduled to leave the EU on March 29 and diplomats are trying to put the finishing touches to a divorce deal and the accompanying outline of their future relationship so that EU leaders can rubber-stamp them at a summit on Sunday.
After a Reuters report that negotiators from the European Commission and Britain had agreed to a draft declaration on future ties, Tusk confirmed that the deal had been agreed in principle.
The text, seen by Reuters, said that the EU and Britain “agree to develop an ambitious, wide-ranging and balanced economic partnership.”
“This partnership will be comprehensive, encompassing a free-trade area, as well as wider sectoral cooperation ... underpinned by provisions ensuring a level playing field,” it said.
The post-Brexit relationship would respect “the integrity of the [European] Union’s single market and the customs union, as well as the United Kingdom’s internal market, and recognize the development of an independent trade policy by the United Kingdom beyond this economic partnership,” it said.
Both sides need an agreement to keep trade flowing between the world’s biggest trading bloc and the fifth-largest national economy.
However, British Prime Minister Theresa May has struggled to untangle nearly 46 years of membership without damaging trade or upsetting the lawmakers who would ultimately decide the fate of any deals she can secure.
Despite the hopes of financial firms in London, Britain secured no improvements to its proposed future trading relations in financial services.
The two sides reiterated that they wanted to replace a provisional agreement preventing the return of extensive border checks between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland with a permanent solution.
May updated her Cabinet on the state of talks by teleconference, but her spokesman said that no final deal can be agreed ahead of the EU summit on Sunday.
The pound rose nearly 1 percent to hit a day’s high of US$1.2894.
The draft declaration was to be screened by national envoys of the remaining 27 EU members meeting in Brussels yesterday.
The EU and Britain “should aim to deliver a level of liberalization in trade in services well beyond the parties’ WTO commitments,” the draft declaration said.
The transition period, which Britain and the EU hope will begin once Britain leaves the EU on March 29, can be extended “for up to one or two years,” it said.
May late yesterday told parliament that a deal was “within our grasp” and that she was “determined to deliver this deal.”
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