LONDON — The European Union is ready to work toward a deal of “unprecedented scale” with the U.K. with “no tariffs, no quotas and no dumping,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
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Speaking at the London School of Economics and Political Science shortly before a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, von der Leyen said the EU “will go as far as we can” but warned that the U.K.-EU relationship after Brexit “will not be as close as before.”
“Our partnership cannot and will not be the same as before. It will not be as close as before because with every choice comes a consequence. With every decision comes a choice,” she said.
“Without free movement of people, you can’t have free movement of capital and goods. The more divergence there is, the more distant the partnership will be. And without an extension of the transition period beyond 2020, you cannot expect to agree on every single aspect of our new partnership. We will have to prioritize. The European Union’s objectives in the negotiation are clear. We will work for solutions that uphold the integrity of the EU, its single market and its Customs Union. There can be no compromise on this.”
Von der Leyen said the U.K. will become a so-called third country after Brexit, and that means it will have to abide by third country rules for EU programs such as the European Defence Fund.
In contrast with the first phase of the Brexit negotiations, which took place amid great uncertainty, the second part of the talks will be conducted against a backdrop of “clarity,” she said.
She said Brexit day — slated to be January 31 — will be “tough and emotional,” but “when the sun raises again on February 1, the U.K. and the European Union will continue to be best friends and partners.”