December 12, 2016 / 4:55 PM / 8 months ago

UK's Hammond backs Brexit transition, says would help EU too

LONDON, Dec 12 (Reuters) - British finance minister Philip Hammond backed the idea of a transition period between Britain leaving the European Union and the finalisation of its new relationship with the bloc, and said EU countries also stood to gain.

"I don't think we should approach this on the basis that we need transitional arrangements, because I think we can only get to a situation where we have a transition if there is a genuine meeting of minds on both sides of this negotiation that they are beneficial," Hammond told lawmakers on Monday.

"Collectively, I think transitional arrangements would be beneficial to us."

Hammond, who has previously suggested that a transition period would be necessary, said he expected discussions about such a period to be discussed early in the negotiations between Britain and the EU's other 27 member countries.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said she wants to launch formal negotiations on leaving the EU before the end of March, a process which has to be concluded within two years. The European Commission has said it expects the talks to be completed by October 2018. (Reporting by Andy Bruce and Camilla Hodgson; Writing by William Schomberg, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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