EU's Brexit negotiator tells Britain - 'face up to the hard facts'

EU's Brexit negotiator tells Britain - 'face up to the hard facts'

STRASBOURG: The European Union's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier hammered home again on Tuesday that Britain would not retain its current privileges, including on trade, once it leaves the bloc.

The EU and Britain are hoping to seal a deal this month on a transition period after Brexit, and start talks on the future relationship this spring.

But mounting differences over Britain's divorce from the EU have led the bloc to warn repeatedly that time was running out, that the post-Brexit transition was not given, and that London should be more precise and realistic on what sort of future ties it sought.

"One cannot have at the same time the status of a third country and demand at the same time the advantages of the (European) Union," Barnier told a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

"It is time to face up to the hard facts," he added.

Speaking on the same occasion, the head of the bloc's executive European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, also reminded London there was no time to waste before Britain leaves the bloc, as is due in March 2019.

"It is obvious that we need further clarity from the UK if we are to reach an understanding on our future relationship," Juncker said.

"As the clock counts down, with one year to go, it is now time to translate speeches into treaties, to turn commitments into agreements."

The EU last week snubbed British Prime Minister Theresa May's calls for a special post-Brexit deal by offering London a free-trade agreement with no special treatment for Britain's mighty financial sector.

(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek and Philip Blenkinsop, Writing by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Source: Reuters