BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on Brexit talks (all times local):
European Council President Donald Tusk says the European Union and Britain must now start negotiating a transition period for Britain to ease its way out of the bloc in 2019.
Tusk said Friday that the transition period should be a negotiating priority. While he noted that Britain has asked for a two-year bridging period, he laid out conditions for that to happen.
He said that "during this period the U.K. will respect the whole of EU law, including new law. It will respect budget commitments, it will respect judicial oversight and of course all related obligations."
Tusk also said he has sent guidelines to EU leaders on how he thinks Brexit talks should be handled after Britain, Ireland and EU officials clinched a deal on the divorce preconditions earlier Friday.
British business groups are expressing relief that Brexit talks look set to start discussing the future shape of trade and economic relations between the U.K. and the European Union.
The EU says an agreement on key divorce terms fulfills its requirement for "sufficient progress" before the talks can move on to a second phase. EU leaders look set to approve the move at a summit next week.
Businesses have been clamoring for details on what the relationship between Britain and the EU will be after Brexit in March 2019. Some companies have been putting off investment in Britain or making plans to move jobs out of the country.
Stephen Martin, who heads U.K. business group the Institute of Directors, said "it went right down to the wire, but businesses will be breathing a huge sigh of relief."
Adam Marshall, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, says that "after the noise and political brinksmanship of recent days, news of a breakthrough in the negotiations will be warmly welcomed by companies across the U.K."
The Northern Ireland party that has been holding up a deal between the U.K. and the EU over the Irish border says it’s now satisfied with the agreement.
The Democratic Unionist Party scuttled a deal at the last minute earlier this week, saying it wouldn’t support a deal it saw as undermining Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom by treating it as a special case.
The party props up May’s government in Parliament, leaving her little choice but to try to get it onside.
Britain and the EU announced Friday they had sealed a reworded agreement.
DUP leader Arlene Foster said the agreement gave "very clear confirmation that the entirety of the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union."
British Prime Minister Theresa May says an agreement between Britain and the European Union guarantees the rights of 3 million EU citizens in the U.K. and 1 million Britons elsewhere in the bloc.
She also says it ensures there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit.
She says Northern Ireland has "a set of unique circumstances" because it has the U.K.‘s only land border with an EU country.
The border issue has been threatening to derail the divorce talks.
Earlier this week, a Northern Ireland party that propped up May’s government scuttled a deal between the U.K and the bloc, prompting frantic diplomacy.
May said Friday that the agreement would maintain an open border while preserving the constitutional and economic integrity of the U.K.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is lauding a breakthrough in Brexit talks and says he will recommend that negotiations be broadened to future relations and trade.
Juncker told reporters Friday that "I believe that we have now made the breakthrough that we needed."
He said that he would recommend to European Union leaders that "sufficient progress has been achieved" on the terms of the divorce to starting talking about issues like future relations and trade.
EU leaders meet in Brussels next Thursday and are likely to endorse the assessment that enough progress has been made on the terms of Britain’s financial settlement, the status of Irish borders and the rights of citizens hit by Brexit.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is meeting with top European Union officials to make a final push to expand talks on her country leaving the bloc to the vital issues of future relations and trade.
May arrived in Brussels early Friday to meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, after a round of overnight telephone calls appeared to have clinched a breakthrough on the issue of Irish borders.
May’s EU partners insist that the talks must make "sufficient progress" on Britain’s financial settlement, a way to keep open Northern Ireland’s border with Ireland and the rights of citizens hit by Brexit.
They meet in Brussels in a week to decide whether enough ground has been made to broaden the talks to future relations and trade, as Britain so badly wants.