Theresa May has set out plans for a two-year implementation period to smooth the Brexit process and promised to honour the UK’s commitments to the EU’s budget as she sought to end the deadlock over Britain’s break from Brussels.
The Prime Minister said neither the Government nor the EU would be ready to fully implement new arrangements for Brexit on March 29 2019 when the UK formally leaves.
She proposed an implementation period during which “the existing structure of EU rules and regulations” would apply – and people from the EU would continue to be able to “live and work” in the UK under a registration scheme.
“As of today, these considerations point to an implementation period of around two years,” she said, although in some areas changes to new arrangements could be made more quickly.
The Prime Minister also used the landmark 35-minute speech in Florence to call for a “bold new strategic agreement” in a treaty on security as a sign of the UK’s continued commitment to the continent.
Mrs May said there would be a “clear double lock” to the implementation period – giving businesses the certainty to plan for change and a guarantee that the temporary transitional arrangements “will not go on for ever”.
In an attempt to break the deadlock over the UK’s financial settlement, Mrs May promised the UK would honour its commitments under the existing budget period, which lasts until 2020, and continue to participate in some other programmes on areas including science, education and culture beyond Brexit.
Although she said some of the claims made about money were “exaggerated and unhelpful”, the Prime Minister stuck by her position that a financial settlement could only be part of a wider deal – rather than a hurdle to clear before trade talks, as the EU insists.
But she added: “I do not want our partners to fear that they will need to pay more or receive less over the remainder of the current budget plan as a result of our decision to leave. The UK will honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership.”
“And as we move forwards, we will also want to continue working together in ways that promote the long-term economic development of our continent.”