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The full-blown free trade agreement that London wants will take considerably longer, however. Negotiations will start only later in 2018 and lead at best to a “political declaration” of intent before Brexit. Full negotiation on an actual trade treaty would only begin after March 2019, though Brussels hopes one can be in place by early 2021, when a transition period would end.
Following an interim accord on divorce terms struck by Prime Minister Theresa May in Brussels, EU leaders should Friday agree to start negotiating a transition period of around two years, if they stick to a draft proposal seen by Reuters.
“We could easily engage on those issues very early in the new year,” a senior EU official said, noting that the two sides had already voiced quite similar views on the transition.
The draft negotiating guidelines echo an agreement among the 27 other EU national leaders in April that Britain would remain bound by essentially all EU rules in the transition but without a say in making them. That will give businesses more time to adjust, but still leave it unclear what will happen in 2021.
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