The European Parliament approved a resolution regarding the start of the U.K.'s Brexit talks, with 516 of its members in favor, 133 opposed and 50 abstaining.
MEPs will ultimately have to ratify the framework for Britain's exit from the EU, as well as the related trade deals. Until then, they expect the country to meet its obligations as a member state, for instance by contributing to the bloc's budget, adhering to the rulings of the European Court of Justice and sticking to the EU's common trade policy by not signing trade deals with other countries before its departure has been finalized. Any transitional trade agreement cannot last longer than three years upon completion of Brexit, which is expected for 2019.
Commenting on the resolution, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the bloc "do[es] not seek to punish the U.K. but simply ask the U.K. to deliver on its commitments and undertakings as a member of the EU," The Guardian reported April 5.
"It is fairly clear what the message is: we are to be very firm towards the U.K. authorities because we cannot accept that the status outside the union is more favorable than membership of the EU," the European Parliament's Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said after the vote, according to the newspaper.
The MEPs' resolution paves the way for a future "association agreement" between the EU and the U.K. that would ensure a close relationship between them while also forcing Britain to work with the bloc on policies regarding issues such as tax evasion, trade and social policy, the Financial Times reported the same day.
British Prime Minister Theresa May formally announced Britain's decision to leave the EU on March 29.