Time to turn Brexit speeches into treaties: EC president

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Mr Juncker today said the draft proposals should not come as a surprise or shock, suggesting it "translates faithfully" the agreement reached between British and European officials late a year ago to avoid a hard border.

Jean-Claude Juncker used a speech in the European parliament to appeal for May's "wishes", sketched out in her Mansion House speech on 2 March, to be turned into an achievable blueprint and reiterated that the EU will stand by its "backstop" plan to keep Northern Ireland under EU law to avoid a hard border with the Irish Republic.

He said he did not want European Union citizens to "fall victim to Brexit" as he stressed the importance of securing their rights.

May and EU27 leaders is set to hold a new round Brexit negotiation on March 22 and 23, with hopes for the consolidation of a transition deal immediately following March 29, 2019, when Britain will become a third country.

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The bloc has repeatedly dismissed such an idea as "cherry-picking" and European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier once again rejected on Tuesday.

Mr Juncker told MEPs in Strasbourg there was "increasing urgency" to negotiate the UK's orderly withdrawal from the EU.

"It's obvious we need further clarity from the United Kingdom if we are to reach an understanding of our future relationship". "If you decide to jettison, leave behind, the common agreements and rules, then you have to accept that things can not remain as they are".

Barnier meanwhile said a whole range of options for third-country cooperation were on the table - the European Union has previously cited trade deals of the type it has with Canada and South Korea.

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However, Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out keeping Britain in an EU customs union because it would prevent the country from striking its own trade deals with fast-growing economies such as China and India.

Britain has said it no longer wants to be part of the EU's seamless and tariff-free internal market and the customs union.

"Do they also want to distance themselves from our regulatory model, the one that we have constructed together with you - and you with us - for 44 years?"

"There was this Mansion House speech by Ms May, but it was mainly repeating the red lines that we know already", he said, adding that it was time to move beyond "slogans" and "sound bites". "We see this with Brexit, we see this with trade, we see this across the board".

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