EU intensifying preparedness for all post-Brexit scenarios – Barnier

FILE PHOTO: Michel Barnier, Brexit chief negotiator for Europe on future ties with Britain, gives a news conference after the first week of EU-UK negotiations, in Brussels
FILE PHOTO: Michel Barnier, Brexit chief negotiator for Europe on future ties with Britain, gives a news conference after the first week of EU-UK negotiations, in Brussels, Belgium, March 5, 2020. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo

The EU is intensifying its preparedness work to be ready for all scenarios on 1 January 2021, the day after the eighth round of negotiations on the future EU-UK partnership took place in London this week.

EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, commenting about the negotiations said that to conclude a future partnership, mutual trust and confidence are and will be necessary. 

In a statement released after the negotiations, Barnier said that “In order to maximise the chances of a deal, the EU has shown flexibility to work around the UK’s red lines and find solutions that fully respect the UK’s sovereignty. In particular with regard to the role of the European Court of Justice, the future legislative autonomy of the UK, and fisheries. However, on its side, the UK has not engaged in a reciprocal way on fundamental EU principles and interests.”

From the EU perspective, significant differences remain in areas of essential interest for the EU.

Barnier said that the  UK is refusing to include indispensable guarantees of fair competition in our future agreement, while requesting free access to our market. While the EU took note of the UK government’s statement on “A new approach to subsidy control”, Barnier said that this falls significantly short of the commitments made in the Political Declaration.

He also said that the EU is still missing important guarantees on non-regression from social, environmental, labour and climate standards.

Barnier said that trade agreements are about ensuring sustainable and fair partnerships with high standards in areas like the environment, climate, employment, health and safety, and taxation. These principles are now at the heart of EU trade policy: with the UK, and with other partners around the world.

Above all, he added, they are at the heart of the EU’s negotiating mandate. 

For the EU, its Member States and the European Parliament, any future economic partnership, regardless of its level of ambition, must ensure that competition is both free and fair.