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UK trade deal will not be 'business as usual' says Barnier

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Michel Barnier (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Michel Barnier (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Michel Barnier (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Michel Barnier said the EU would be "clear headed" in its negotiations with the UK.

Brussels' chief negotiator said: "Our aim is to conclude an ambitious partnership with the United Kingdom.

"But we will remain clear headed. The most ambitious partnership is the one that we had, because we were in the same union."

He added: "When you are not a member of the European Union then, objectively speaking, your position is different and less favourable."

The European Commission published its draft negotiating mandate for a single package with three components: general arrangements, economic arrangements and security arrangements.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said: "It's now time to get down to work. Time is short.

The European Union will link any access to its market for British products directly to the access that EU boats will be given to UK waters, the bloc’s chief negotiator has said. EU negotiator Michel Barnier underscored the difficulties of the trade negotiations with Britain ahead for the rest of the year when he highlighted the small but emblematic fisheries industry, which was a key issue in the protracted Brexit process in the United Kingdom too.

"We will negotiate in a fair and transparent manner, but we will defend EU interests, and the interests of our citizens, right until the end."

The European Commission published its draft negotiating mandate for a single package with three components: general arrangements, economic arrangements and security arrangements.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said: "It's now time to get down to work. Time is short.

"We will negotiate in a fair and transparent manner, but we will defend EU interests, and the interests of our citizens, right until the end."

Mr Barnier said the EU was prepared to make a "exceptional offer" for a wide-ranging free trade agreement with the UK.

However, he said that it was conditional on competition remaining "open and fair" with "specific and effective guarantees" to ensure a "level playing field" over the long term.

"That means mechanisms to uphold the high standards we have on social, environmental, climate, tax and state aid matters," he said.

He said there must also be an agreement on fisheries with continued reciprocal access to markets and waters with "stable quota shares".

Boris Johnson delivers his vision for trade talks with the EU as both sides enter the next phase of Brexit negotiations following Britain's withdrawal from the Union last Friday.

Mr Barnier warned that even if they were able to agree a "best-in-class" trade deal it would still not be "business as usual".

He said rules of origin and customs formalities would apply between the UK and the EU and access to EU markets would be subject to "certification and market authorisation and supervision activities".

Mr Barnier said the more the UK was prepared to maintain common standards with the EU, the higher quality access it would get to EU markets.

"This will be up to the UK to decide. Will it continue to adhere to Europe's societal and regulatory model in the future or will it seek to diverge?" he said.

"The UK's answer to this question will be fundamental to the level of our ambition of our future relationship. The UK must know this."

There would be no harmonisation or mutual recognition of rules, and UK financial services providers would no longer enjoy EU "passporting rights".

Goods entering the EU from the UK would be subject to regulatory checks," he said.

"These are the automatic and mechanical consequences of the UK's choices and businesses must adapt now to this new reality," he said.

Mr Barnier warned that even if they were able to agree a "best-in-class" trade deal it would still not be "business as usual".

He said rules of origin and customs formalities would apply between the UK and the EU and access to EU markets would be subject to "certification and market authorisation and supervision activities".

There would be no harmonisation or mutual recognition of rules, and UK financial services providers would no longer enjoy EU "passporting rights".

Goods entering the EU from the UK would be subject to regulatory checks," he said.

"These are the automatic and mechanical consequences of the UK's choices and businesses must adapt now to this new reality," he said.

Mr Barnier said the more the UK was prepared to maintain common standards with the EU, the higher quality access it would get to EU markets.

"This will be up to the UK to decide. Will it continue to adhere to Europe's societal and regulatory model in the future or will it seek to diverge?" he said.

"The UK's answer to this question will be fundamental to the level of our ambition of our future relationship. The UK must know this."

Boris Johnson has said Britain has settled a question of "sovereign authority" and can now go out into the world with "newly recaptured powers".

Speaking in Greenwich, the Prime Minister said: "We have settled a long-running question of sovereign authority, we have ended a debate that has run for three and a half years - some would say 47 years...

"We have the opportunity, we have the newly recaptured powers, we know where we want to go, and that is out into the world."

Mr Johnson said that at a time when tariffs were being "waved around like cudgels", the UK was ready to step forward as a champion of free trade.

"Humanity needs some government somewhere that is willing at least to make the case powerfully for freedom of exchange," he said.

"Some country ready to take off its Clark Kent spectacles and leap into the phone booth and emerge with its cloak flowing as the supercharged champion of the right of populations of the earth to buy and sell freely among each other.

"I can tell you in all humility the UK is ready for that role."

Michel Barnier said that a security partnership between the UK and EU would depend on the European Court of Justice playing a full role - something likely to be rejected by Brexiteers.

Setting out three conditions he said: "The UK should commit itself to applying the European Convention on Human Rights.

"Secondly, the British government should set up adequate standards for data protection - this is an essential concern for the Europeans and this is something that the European Parliament is paying a great deal of attention to.

"Thirdly, any co-operation should be subject to an effective dispute settlement mechanism.

"Where a partnership is based on concepts derived from European law, obviously the European Court of Justice should be able to continue its role in full."

Michel Barnier told reporters in Brussels that "where there's a will, there's a way" to reach a deal.

"But we are constrained by the decision, if it's confirmed, the decision of Boris Johnson to leave the single market and the customs union at the end of this year," he said.

Michel Barnier, who said he had a "very direct and frank relationship" with Boris Johnson, suggested it would not be possible to complete the whole deal within 11 months.

"Irrespective of the result that we will arrive at at the end of the year - and in any subsequent negotiations, and I say that because to do everything we will need more than 11 months of time - it won't be business as usual," he said.

Mr Barnier said an agreement on fisheries and the "level playing field" were "inextricably linked" to a trade deal.

"It's clear that the agreement that we wish to have in the interests of UK fishermen and in the interests of European fishermen - I call that reciprocal access to our territorial waters and our markets - that agreement on fisheries will be inextricably linked to the trade agreement, as indeed will be... the agreement on the level playing field agreed with Boris Johnson."

Mr Johnson said the UK would seek a Canada-style free trade agreement with the EU.

"We want a comprehensive free trade agreement similar to Canada's, but in the unlikely event that we do not succeed then our trade will have to be based on our existing Withdrawal Agreement with the EU," the PM said.

"And let's be clear, the choice is not emphatically deal or no deal - we have a deal, we've done it, and it did indeed turn out as I correctly prophesied to be oven ready.

"The question is whether we agree a trading relationship with the EU comparable to Canada's or more like Australia's and I have no doubt that in either case the UK will prosper mightily."

Mr Johnson said: "There is no need for a free trade agreement to involve accepting EU rules on competition policies, subsidies, social protection, the environment or anything similar, any more than the EU should be obliged to accept UK rules.

"The UK will maintain the highest standards in these areas - better in many respects than those of the EU - without the compulsion of a treaty."

Online Editors