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EU offers ‘unprecedented’ partnership with Britain

If Britain sticks to the Brexit deal it negotiated, the European Union is ready to offer it an “unprecedented partnership”, the bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said on Thursday.

Prime Minister Theresa May met EU leaders in Brussels on Sunday to agree on terms on Britain’s March 29 departure from the Union but is now struggling to sell it to her own parliament.

Some in London still hope to negotiate better trading arrangements, similar to or improvements on the accords between Brussels and Canada, Switzerland or Norway.

But Barnier, echoing language already deployed by EU Commission president Jean-Claude Junker and May herself at Sunday’s summit, said: “The deal on the table is the only one, the best possible.”

Instead of renegotiating the exit agreement, he said, Britain and the Union should now focus on building an ambitious future relationship which would be closer and better than a mere free trade pact.

Addressing to the European Parliament, Barnier said the future relationship would encompass “goods, services, the digital economy, movement of citizens, transport, public contracts, energy, security and, obviously, for the stability of our continent, foreign policy.”

“The partnership with the United Kingdom will be without precedent in terms of the breadth and number of subjects for cooperation,” he said, for as long as the agreed political declaration on future ties is respected.

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