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Wed, 12 Sep 2018 13:52 - Updated Wed, 12 Sep 2018 13:52

EU's Juncker says ties with UK will always be close but Brexit demands remain

STRASBOURG - European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday renewed a pledge of close trade and security ties with Britain after Brexit, but said the European Union would not compromise on key withdrawal terms.

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Delivering his annual state-of-the-union speech to the European Parliament, Juncker said the EU will not allow Britain to participate only in some parts of the bloc’s single market after Brexit without honoring all of its rules.

The EU respects Britain’s decision to leave, Juncker said. “But we also ask the British government to understand that someone who leaves the union cannot be in the same privileged position as a member state.”

“After 29 March 2019, the United Kingdom will never be an ordinary third country for us. The United Kingdom will always be a very close neighbor and partner, in political, economic and security terms,” Juncker said.

Markets have been reacting increasingly nervously to Brexit news in recent weeks as the EU and Britain have yet to reach a comprehensive agreement before Britain leaves on March 29, 2019.

Businesses fear a disruptive “no-deal” scenario under which Britain would crash out of the EU next year with few agreements in place to transition into a new reality. Avoiding reintroducing checks on the EU-UK land border on the island of Ireland remains a key obstacle.

The EU has highlighted in recent weeks a willingness to work closely with Britain after Brexit, to help Prime Minister Theresa May convince her divided cabinet and parliament to accept Brexit terms, including the Irish fix. But Juncker made clear key demands by the bloc held firm.

“The European Commission, this Parliament and all other 26 member states will always show loyalty and solidarity with Ireland when it comes to the Irish border,” Juncker said,REUTERS.

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