The Latest: EU's Brexit chief welcomes 'constructive' speech

British Prime Minister Theresa May delivers her speech, in Florence, Italy, Friday Sept. 22, 2017. May will try Friday to revive foundering Brexit talks — and unify her fractious government — by proposing a two-year transition after Britain's departure from the European Union in 2019 during which the U.K. would continue to pay into the bloc's coffers. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, Pool)
British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to an aid during a high level meeting on the situation in Libya, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
A woman holds a poster showing British Prime Minister Theresa May during a protest staged by a group of UK citizens living in Italy, in Florence, Italy, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. British Prime Minister Theresa May, who is expected to deliver a speech about Brexit in Florence, will try Friday to revive foundering Brexit talks, and unify her fractious government, by proposing a two-year transition after Britain's departure from the European Union in 2019 during which the U.K. would continue to pay into the bloc's coffers. (Maurizio Degl'Innocenti/ANSA via AP)
A poster showing British Prime Minister Theresa May is displayed during a protest staged by a group of UK citizens living in Italy, in Florence, Italy, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. British Prime Minister Theresa May, who is expected to deliver a speech about Brexit in Florence, will try Friday to revive foundering Brexit talks, and unify her fractious government, by proposing a two-year transition after Britain's departure from the European Union in 2019 during which the U.K. would continue to pay into the bloc's coffers. (Rosaria Caramiello/ANSA via AP)
British Prime Minister Theresa May delivers her speech, in Florence, Italy, Friday Sept. 22, 2017. May will try Friday to revive foundering Brexit talks — and unify her fractious government — by proposing a two-year transition after Britain's departure from the European Union in 2019 during which the U.K. would continue to pay into the bloc's coffers. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, Pool)
British Prime Minister Theresa May delivers her speech, in Florence, Italy, Friday Sept. 22, 2017. May will try Friday to revive foundering Brexit talks — and unify her fractious government — by proposing a two-year transition after Britain's departure from the European Union in 2019 during which the U.K. would continue to pay into the bloc's coffers. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, Pool)

LONDON — The Latest on British Prime Minister Theresa May's speech on Brexit (all times local):

4:50 p.m.

The European Union's Brexit negotiator is welcoming Prime Minister Theresa May's speech on leaving the bloc but says its content must be turned into action.

Michel Barnier said in a tweet that May's Brexit speech was "constructive" but that it "must be translated into negotiating positions to make meaningful progress."

In a statement, Barnier also noted that "for the first time, the United Kingdom government has requested to continue to benefit from access to the single market, on current terms."

Barnier said that if the leaders of the 27 other EU nations agree, then "this new request could be taken into account by the EU."

He noted that the request is "is for a limited period of up to two years."

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4:20 p.m.

The leader of the biggest bloc in the European Parliament says British Prime Minister Theresa May's latest Brexit speech has him more worried than ever about whether a deal can be done.

European People's Party chairman Manfred Weber said in a tweet Friday: "In substance PM May is bringing no more clarity to London's positions. I am even more concerned now."

Weber is not directly involved in the Brexit divorce talks between the U.K. and the EU, but the European Parliament must endorse any Brexit agreement.

EU negotiators say an agreement must be reached by October 2018 to leave time for national parliaments to endorse it before Britain is due to leave the bloc on March 29, 2019.

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3:30 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May says Britain is committed to protecting the Good Friday peace accord in Northern Ireland, pledging that even after Britain leaves the EU there will be no physical customs infrastructure at that border with Ireland.

In a keynote address Friday on Brexit negotiations, May stressed that Britain and the EU owed it "to the people of Northern Ireland - and indeed to everyone on the island of Ireland — to see through these commitments."

May did not rule out that electronic surveillance might be in place along the Irish border.

She says both the EU and the U.K. "have recognized from the outset there are unique issues to consider when it comes to Northern Ireland," and that lives and livelihoods depend on progress in the Brexit negotiations.

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3:15 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May says failing to reach a Brexit deal with the European Union would be 'damaging blow' to Europe's future.

May urged EU leaders to approach the talks with creativity and ambition as she set out her ideas on breaking the deadlock in Brexit negotiations. The talks have hit a roadblock on issues such as the amount that Britain must pay to settle its financial commitments to the bloc.

Speaking Friday in Florence, Italy, May said Britain would honor its financial commitments so no country would have to "pay more or receive less" over the remainder of the EU's current budget.

She also urged EU negotiators to look beyond established models — such as that of Norway — and to recognize Britain's unique position as it leaves the bloc.

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3:05 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has proposed an "implementation period" of around two years, offering a transition after Britain's formal departure from the European Union in March 2019.

May says a transition period in which the U.K. would stay in the bloc for a limited but defined amount of time would offer certainty for business and help ensure there are no problems during the changeover. May also signaled that the U.K. will pay a Brexit bill for leaving the bloc, saying Britain "will honor commitments we have made."

The U.K. leader's comments Friday in Florence, Italy, came amid a deadlock in Brexit talks on having the nation leave the European Union. The talks have stalled on issues such as the amount that Britain must pay to settle its financial commitments to the bloc.

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3 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has urged the U.K. and the European Union to find a "creative'" new economic relationship not based on any current trade model.

May's comments Friday in a speech in Florence come as the British leader seeks to break a deadlock in Brexit talks on having the nation leave the European Union. The talks have stalled on issues such as the amount of money Britain must pay to settle its financial commitments to the bloc.

May says the "British people have decided to leave the EU and to be a global trading nation, able to chart our own way in the world."

Her audience included top U.K. officials — Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Brexit Secretary David Davis — but no leaders of the 27 remaining EU states.

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2:50 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May says the U.K. will not seek either a European Union single-market membership or a Canadian-style free trade deal in its Brexit negotiations.

May's comments in Florence, Italy, on Friday set out her ambitions for Britain's formal departure from the European Union.

The speech comes before the fourth round of Brexit talks with the EU. Those talks have stalled on issues such as the amount of money Britain must pay to settle its financial commitments to the bloc and the status of EU citizens in the U.K.

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2:45 p.m.

Prime Minister Theresa May says progress has been made in "'tough" Brexit negotiations and that the rights of EU citizens' post-Brexit rights will be guaranteed into British law.

May set out her ambition to break the deadlock in Brexit negotiations in a speech Friday in Florence, Italy, stressing that both sides share "a profound sense of responsibility" to ensure their parting goes "smoothly and sensibly."

May sought to explain why voters in the U.K. didn't feel the European Union to be an integral part of their identity — but said Britain did not want to leave its European neighbors behind.

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2:35 p.m.

A few dozen people are taking part in a peaceful demonstration in Florence where Prime Minister Theresa May is giving a speech on Britain's exit from the European Union.

The protesters, many of them Britons, waved EU flags on Friday and chanted "Theresa May, we're here to stay!"

The rally was organized by a group called "New Europeans," which advocates freedom of movement in Europe and EU citizenship rights.

One of the difficult decisions that the EU and Britain will have to resolve in their divorce is how to treat each other's citizens living in their areas.

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9:30 a.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May will try to revive foundering Brexit talks, proposing a two-year transition after Britain's formal departure from the European Union in 2019 to ensure there are no problems during the changeover.

May's office released extracts from a speech she will deliver Friday in Florence, Italy, stressing that both sides share "a profound sense of responsibility" to ensure their parting goes "smoothly and sensibly."

The speech comes before the fourth round of talks, which have stalled on issues such as the amount Britain must pay to settle its financial commitments to the bloc and the status of EU citizens in the U.K.

While the EU says negotiations can't move forward until these issues are resolved, Britain wants to begin discussing future links, including trade and security cooperation.

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