An official hangs a Union Jack subsequent to an European Union flag at EU Headquarters in Brussels on October 17, 2019, forward of a European Union Summit on Brexit. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
EU envoys on Monday finalised a mandate for chief negotiator Michel Barnier to steer what promise to be stormy talks with Britain on its future relations with the bloc beginning subsequent week.
The textual content, setting out the European Union’s calls for and purple traces, is to be formally adopted Tuesday at a gathering of the bloc’s ministers.
Britain is working by itself negotiating mandate, which it’s anticipated to be revealed on Thursday.
Britain ceased to be a part of the EU on the finish of final month below the phrases of a Brexit deal that ushered in a transition interval for the large negotiations to happen on commerce, safety and defence.
The extent to which Britain will align with EU guidelines on environmental, labour, well being, taxation and different requirements is ready to be one of many thorniest points.
One EU supply advised AFP that the ambassadors adopted the mandate by consensus, including: “It’s good news.”
The textual content “specifies that the agreement should allow us to have fair competition conditions over the long term,” the supply added.
One other supply mentioned the mandate was “clarified on all necessary points”.
– Enjoying hardball –
Each London and Brussels have employed more and more robust rhetoric in latest weeks.
Barnier, who has stood agency on EU positions, declined Monday to be drawn on the most recent skirmish: a UK newspaper report alleging that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was looking for to undermine the Brexit withdrawal settlement.
He advised AFP he believed and hoped that deal could be “respected by the United Kingdom — I don’t have any reason to think otherwise”.
The Sunday Occasions report, citing an unnamed British authorities “senior source”, mentioned Johnson’s negotiating crew was taking a look at methods aimed toward “not obeying the Northern Ireland protocol” within the Brexit deal.
That protocol requires checks on items between Britain and its Northern Eire territory within the curiosity of sustaining financial integrity between Northern Eire and EU member Eire.
The measure successfully places a border for items within the Irish Sea.
Johnson has repeatedly insisted that no checks could be wanted, whereas his workplace mentioned the UK “will comply with our obligations” below the withdrawal settlement.
On the opposite aspect of the desk, France took the lead in injecting hardball circumstances into successive drafts of the EU negotiating mandate.
Drafts of the textual content insist on a “level playing field” that “will stand the test of time”. That basically calls for Britain maintains requirements equal to European ones, even when they modify sooner or later.
That speaks to EU fears that Britain would possibly strive for a aggressive edge by casting off pricey environmental, labour and tax norms.
It additionally says the EU alone will decide what British monetary providers will likely be deemed equal sufficient to be supplied within the bloc.
And it says EU fishing boats ought to proceed to have the ability to have entry to British waters.
With Britain threatening to stroll away and as a substitute commerce on solely essentially the most primary phrases with the EU if needed, the results of the negotiations — because of begin subsequent week and be accomplished by the tip of the 12 months — is unsure.
French President Emmanuel Macron warned on the weekend he was “not sure” a deal could be struck by the tip of December.
– No extension –
A “no deal” Brexit, with its heavy implications for the UK economic system, doesn’t appear to frighten the British authorities.
Johnson is asking for a simplified deal just like these the EU has struck with Canada, Japan and South Korea that cut back tariff boundaries to close zero, however which have much less strict controls on requirements.
“There is no reason that our proximity to the EU should mean extra restrictions on trade,” his spokesman mentioned Monday.
“Proximity is not a determining factor in other FTAs (free trade agreements) between other neighbouring states with large economies.”
He insisted: “We will not accept alignment with the EU.”
London has till the tip of June to ask for a deadline extension ought to the talks fail to make headway within the coming months.
However Johnson has dominated out asking for extra time, a stance that raises the prospects of a “no deal” or solely a bare-bones deal which might additionally convey main disruption.