Britain and EU reach divorce deal to move on to new phase in Brexit talks
BRUSSELS — British and the European Union on Friday reached a deal on the terms of their divorce, leaders said, opening the door to talks about Britain’s relationship with the bloc after it quits its decades-long membership.
The bargain came as British Prime Minister Theresa May overcame dissent at home to find a compromise on the biggest challenges facing Britain during its split. A disagreement over borders between Northern Ireland and Ireland nearly derailed the deal this week. British factions have also tangled over the amount of money they will have to pay as they leave the European Union as well as who will guarantee the rights of E.U. citizens after the divorce.
“It hasn’t been easy for either side,” May said in an early-morning news conference in Brussels following all-night talks. She called the deal “a hard-won agreement in all our interests.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he planned to recommend that European leaders approve unlocking the next phase of talks when they meet at a summit next week. That would start trade negotiations about Britain’s post-E.U. relationship with its neighbors. E.U. leaders are expected to follow the recommendation.
“Sufficient progress has now been made on the strict terms of the divorce,” Juncker said. “This was a difficult negotiation for the European Union as well as for the United Kingdom.”