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Merkel: Brexit like negotiating a trade accord backward

German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech during the opening ceremony for the 'National Integration Award' at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, May 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech during the opening ceremony for the 'National Integration Award' at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, May 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the European Union will need mechanisms to deal with new rules in post-Brexit Britain that might distort competition. She's comparing the divorce process with negotiating a free trade agreement backward.

Merkel told a conference of family-owned companies Friday that there will be a "price" for Britain's departure from the EU if it doesn't accept free movement of EU citizens — "we will have to see how we balance that out." That echoed comments earlier this week that appeared to signal a somewhat tougher tone on Brexit from Berlin.

Negotiations on Britain's EU departure are expected to start in earnest next month. Merkel noted that Britain will be able to adopt its own standards on issues such as environment and consumer protection once it leaves.

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