30/10/2016 22:06 GMT

EU Deal With Canada Means Nothing For 'Brexit', Says EU Commission President

Jean-Claude Juncker suggests UK deal will be no quicker than seven years for new pact.

Olivier Matthys/AP
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, right, European Council President Donald Tusk, left, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, centre, as they arrive for an EU-Canada summit in Brussels.

It has taken seven years to strike a trade deal between Canada and the European Union, and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker signalled an agreement with post-’Brexit’ Britain could be just as lengthy.

The EU on Sunday held a summit to sign-off the Canada pact which had been held up by objections from the Walloon regional government in Belgium.

‘Brexit-eers’ have argued the Canada agreement could be used as the starting point for negotiations with the UK once Article 50 is triggered, the mechanism by which Britain formally quits the bloc.

But speaking to reporters before greeting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Reuters reports, Juncker made clear there was no read across.

“I don’t see any relation between what we are signing today and the Brexit issue.”

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom also said the deal with Canada had nothing to do with the EU’s talks with Britain.

“I draw no conclusions for Brexit from this.”

Theresa May has said Britain would commence formal Brexit negotiations by the end of March, and the country will have up to two years to do it once Article 50 is enacted.

Leave supporters will likely say the deal shows the UK can get an agreement with the EU that does not also mean accepting uncontrolled migration from the continent - as one of the campaign groups has said, despite Juncker’s warning - amid warnings of the impact of a ‘hard Brexit’.