Tuesday 17 July 2018

Britain must accept full status quo during Brexit transition - Barnier

British Prime Minister Theresa May Photo: PA
British Prime Minister Theresa May Photo: PA

Alastair MacDonald

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said Britain must accept the full economic and legal status quo in a transition period after it leaves the EU and should expect no tailor-made terms on trade in its future relationship.

Suggesting a transition should run for 21 months from Brexit on March 30, 2019, until the current EU budget expires at the end of 2020, Mr Barnier said Britain would "certainly" remain subject to EU laws and courts during that transition.

"During this period, the EU legal framework including on jurisdiction would continue to apply to Britain," he said.

"We don't have time to invent a new model. So for a short time after the formal exit from the EU the economic status quo would continue to apply, which besides the internal market also includes the customs union and collective political decisions."

He also said: "The only difference is that the British would no longer take part in decisions on European legislation."

British Prime Minister Theresa May has proposed a transition of around two years to give time to put a new free trade pact in place, but she faces opposition in London from some Brexit supporters who want a clean, quick break.

Mr Barnier noted she had rejected the option of staying in the EU single market long term - the "Norwegian model" as he called it, referring to Norway's membership of the EU internal market, accepting all its rules and costs without having a say.

"So we must work on other hypotheses. Another option would be a free-trade treaty using the example of the Ceta agreement with Canada. It would take several years, however, to negotiate such an agreement," he said.

Asked if that meant "a specifically British model" along the lines of the "bespoke arrangements" Mrs May has referred to without giving detail, Mr Barnier replied simply: "No."

He said a trade deal could be agreed in three years - meaning that if talks start in December it would be ready just in time for a transition ending in December 2020.

Irish Independent

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