The EU assures trade and investment partnerships with Sri Lanka and the rest of the Asian region will remain unchanged, despite Brexit.
EU’s High Representative and Vice President Josep Borrell and Head of the Task Force for Relations with the UK Michel Barnier said: “We lost a member of our family, when the United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January, 2020. It was a sad moment for us, for European citizens and, indeed, for many British citizens.
“Nevertheless, we have always respected the sovereign decision of 52 per cent of the British electorate, and we now look forward to starting a new chapter in our relations.
“Emotions aside, February 1 turned out to be historic but also undramatic. This is largely thanks to the Withdrawal Agreement that we negotiated with the UK, which enabled us to secure ‘an orderly Brexit’. One that – at least for now – minimises disruption for our citizens, businesses, public administrations – as well as for our international partners.
“Under this agreement, the EU and the UK agreed on a transition period, until the end of this year at least, during which the UK will continue to participate in the EU’s Customs Union and Single Market, and to apply EU law, even if it is no longer a member state. During this period, the UK will also continue to abide by the international agreements of the EU, as we made clear in a note verbale to our international partners.
“So, with the transition period in place, there is a degree of continuity. This was not easy given the magnitude of the task. By leaving the EU, the UK automatically, mechanically, legally, leaves hundreds of international agreements concluded by or on behalf of the bloc, to the benefit of its member states, on topics as different as trade, aviation, fisheries or civil nuclear cooperation.
“We now have to build a new partnership between the EU and the UK. That work will start in a few weeks, as soon as the EU27 have approved the negotiating mandate proposed by the European Commission, setting out our terms and ambitions for achieving the closest possible partnership with a country which will remain our ally, our partner and our friend.
“The EU and the UK are bound by history, by geography, culture, shared values and principles and a strong belief in rules-based multilateralism. Our future partnership will reflect these links and shared beliefs.
“We want to go well beyond trade and keep working together on security and defence, areas where the UK has experiences and assets that are best used as part of a common effort. In a world of big challenges and change, of turmoil and transition, we must consult each other and cooperate, bilaterally and in key regional and global fora, such as the UN, the World Trade Organization, Nato or the G20.
THE ISLAND (SRI LANKA)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK