A countdown clock is projected onto the wall of 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, on Jan. 31, 2020. Britain will leave the European Union (EU) on Jan. 31, 2020. (Xinhua/Han Yan)
BRUSSELS, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- On the United Kingdom's last day in the European Union (EU), top EU leaders in an op-ed published in several European media heralded "a new dawn for Europe" that includes environmental and digital priorities.
The op-ed, under the name of presidents of three EU institutions -- Charles Michel, David Sassoli and Ursula von der Leyen -- said:" The last few years had brought the EU closer together -- as nations, as institutions and as people."
"They have reminded us all that the European Union is more than a market or economic power but stands for values that we all share and defend," it said.
"A common vision" of the EU includes the European Green Deal, which aims to be the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, and taking the lead on the next generation of digital technologies, according to the op-ed.
The leaders said they have always deeply regretted the UK's decision to leave but have always fully respected it.
As the bloc and the UK are set to negotiate their future relations soon, the op-ed said "how close that partnership will depend on decisions that are still to be taken," adding "every choice has a consequence."
"Without the free movement of people, there can be no free movement of capital, goods and services. Without a level playing field on environment, labour, taxation and state aid, there cannot be the highest quality access to the single market. Without being a member, you cannot retain the benefits of membership," the op-ed said, making clear the future relations would be less close than the 45 years when the UK was an EU member state.