EU Partners OK Terms for Post-Brexit

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union agreed on guidelines Friday that will govern negotiations on future relations and trade links with Britain after Brexit, almost exactly a year before the country leaves the bloc.

While chairing a summit of EU leaders in Brussels, European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted that the "EU 27 has adopted guidelines for the future EU-U.K. relations."

The document lays out their approach on a variety of matters, including future security, defense and foreign policy ties, as well as the outlines of a future trade deal.

Britain may negotiate trade agreements with other countries after it officially leaves the bloc at midnight on March 29, 2019, but no pact can enter into force without EU permission before the end of December 2020, after a post-Brexit transition. During that period, the country will remain part of the tariff-free single market and customs union even though it will be out of all EU decision-making bodies.

However, the guidelines warn that the road ahead, particularly on trade, will be bumpy and that Britain should not expect to enjoy the commercial relations it does today.

"Divergence in external tariffs and internal rules as well as absence of common institutions and a shared legal system, necessitates checks and controls to uphold the integrity of the EU single market as well as of the UK market. This unfortunately will have negative economic consequences, in particular in the United Kingdom," the document said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who is at the summit, said, she was "looking for a new dynamic in the next stage of the negotiations so that we can ensure that we do develop, that we work together to negotiate and develop that strong future economic and security partnership."

After kissing her hand in front of reporters, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier welcomed the move, saying "we are taking a decisive step in this difficult and extraordinary negotiation."

(KA)