In return for continued access to the EU single market, the UK would honor its budget commitments of about 10 billion euros (about $12 billion) year, remain bound by EU laws and accept continued immigration from Europe.
But May said the transition should be “strictly time-limited” and replaced as soon as practicable by a bespoke, “creative” partnership that would respect the result of last year’s EU referendum.
UK and EU leaders share a “profound sense of responsibility” to make the process work “smoothly and sensibly” for this and future generations, she said at the Santa Maria Novella church in Florence, Italy.
“The eyes of the world are on us, but if we can be imaginative and creative about the way we establish this new relationship, if we can proceed on the basis of trust in each other, I believe we can be optimistic about the future we can build for the United Kingdom and for the European Union,” she said.
The top EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, welcomed the “constructive spirit” of the speech but warned that Britain would have to accede to all existing EU rules and oversight to retain access to the single market during any transition period. “The speech shows a willingness to move forward, as time is of the essence,” he said.