German industry want United Kingdom in a customs union after Brexit

The US has signalled it could exempt certain countries from planned steel and aluminium tariffsMore

The EU should offer Britain an "association agreement" after Brexit, similar to the ones it has with Ukraine or Georgia, European legislators said Wednesday.

Urging the PM to speed up the Brexit negotiations and define her vision for the future relationship between United Kingdom and the EU, Barnier said: "One can not have at the same time the status of a third country and demand at the same time the advantages of the (European) Union", Barnier told a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The draft EU text published last month says Northern Ireland must stay in a customs union with the rest of the bloc if no better way is found to avoid a hard Irish border - which Britain rejects.

During his speech, Juncker said the issue of Ireland was a European one, but was interrupted by members of the parliament saying this was only a British issue.

The BDI interpreted the development as an "alarming sign" that Brexit was already "casting a shadow" on economic relations between Britain and EU.

Several issues remain to be solved, including finding a solution for the future of the Irish border.

Any less comprehensive free-trade agreement in lieu of customs union membership would carry the risk of logistical bottlenecks and inevitably lead to an increase in the cost and bureaucratic burden associated with trade, he added.

Mr Barnier added that it was a "rather surprising idea" to think the European Union could accept convergence in some areas "and at the same time open up the possibility for divergence when there is a comparative advantage to be had" for the UK.

"It's time to face up to the hard facts", Barnier told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

The European Parliament's Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt also called for more details from Ms May.

"The two leaders agreed on the need for consequences for those who use these heinous weapons in flagrant violation of worldwide norms", it said.

"The UK is choosing to leave the union, the single market and the customs union, we have noted that".

"As the clock counts down with one year to go it is now time to translate speeches into treaties", Juncker said.

Joachim Lang, chief executive of the BDI - the Federation of German Industries - said: "For German companies, duty-free and quota-free trade in goods is the minimum requirement, ideally within the framework of a customs union".

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