The European Union on Wednesday committed to be “creative” in the final stages of the Brexit trade negotiations but warned that whatever deal emerges, the United Kingdom will be reduced to “just a valued partner” far removed from its former membership status.
EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said “genuine progress” had been made on several issues “with an outline of a final text,” little more than a month before Britain’s transition period as a former EU member runs out.
And she said that on the divisive issues of fisheries, governance of any deal and the standards the U.K. must meet to export into the EU, the bloc is “ready to be creative, but we are not ready to put into question the integrity of the single market, the main safeguard for European prosperity and wealth.”
In the EU single market, goods and services can freely flow from one of the 27 member states to another without barriers like customs or checks, and it is seen as a cornerstone of the EU. With Britain deciding to walk out, von der Leyen insisted it should feel the cold.
“One thing is clear. Whatever the outcome, there has to be and there will be a clear difference between being a full member of the union and being just a valued partner,” she told legislators at the European Parliament.