brussels - Negotiations on the British departure from the EU can go to the next stage. EU leaders agree that the basic agreement on the divorce is now sufficient to talk about the future relationship.
After a breakthrough last Friday that led to the agreement in principle, the conclusion of EU leaders, meeting for a summit in Brussels, was not unexpected.
The next step is to negotiate a transitional period of around two years requested by London, so that the companies have more time to adjust to the new situation after March 2019. That transition period is included in the exit treaty, which must be ready in October.
The Austrian Prime Minister Christian Kern said like many other leaders that the most difficult part has yet to come: 'It is a marathon of which the first mile has just been covered. '
The agreement in principle deals with financial liquidation, the rights of EU citizens and the Irish-Northern Irish border. 'We now need the legally binding text as soon as possible,' said Prime Minister Mark Rutte. 'If that works, and we can start a first cautious discussion about future relationships at the same time, we could limit the damage. That is ultimately my goal. '
According to Rutte, it is now time that the British Prime Minister Theresa May makes it clear how she wants to shape that future relationship. This opinion is also attached to EU negotiator Michel Barnier.