Govt Minister: We Don’t Need a Trade Deal with the EU

  • Govt Minister: We Don’t Need a Trade Deal with the EU

Govt Minister: We Don’t Need a Trade Deal with the EU

The January rain kept some of the crowds away but there was still a steady stream of human traffic as several thousand Brexit supporters headed to Parliament Square to countdown the minutes to 11pm GMT when the United Kingdom formally ended its 47 year membership of the European Union on Friday (31 January).

The EU has repeatedly said Britain's access to European markets will depend on its willingness to sign up to EU standards.

The EU and Britain will set the stage for Brexit's next bruising chapter on Monday, laying down their vision and red lines for a post-divorce future following the UK's dramatic exit from the bloc.

Canada's trade arrangement with the EU, CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement), saw tariffs removed on around 98% of goods traded between the EU and Canada, making it much cheaper to sell each other's goods in the other jurisdiction.

Britain is especially angry that the provision would involve the European Court of Justice, the EU's highest court that became a rallying symbol of EU over-reach for pro-Brexiteers.

Barnier said the two topics will be negotiated at the same time. "In the next couple of months we will see both sides standing firm and appealing to domestic audiences".

"That agreement on fisheries will be inextricably linked to the trade agreement", he said.

"There are lots of other ways that countries trade with each other". "We'll work to avoid that, but if we can't manage a deal by the end of the year there will be a cliff-edge on many fronts".

"The U.K. PM has chosen a speech in a historic setting to lay down red lines, embellished with rhetorical flourishes, while the European Union has laid out 167 paragraphs of negotiating demands in a functional conference room in Brussels", she said.

He said: 'The Americans are some of the toughest negotiators in the world.

But a critical element of any new trade agreement will be the degree to which Britain continues to abide by numerous bloc's rules in such areas as labor rights, environmental standards and antitrust rules.

If the British request is "for access to 450 million consumers, zero tariffs. zero quotas, that won't happen for nothing and without conditions", Mr. Barnier told reporters in Brussels.

"We are in favour of free trade, but we are not going to be naive", Barnier said.

He added that Britain had agreed in a political declaration previous year to create a "level playing field". That agreement included a "political declaration" that set out the framework for negotiations on trade and other issues.

In his speech, the PM will say: "We have often been told that we must choose between full access to the European Union market, along with accepting its rules and courts on the Norway model, or an ambitious free trade agreement, which opens up markets and avoids the full panoply of European Union regulation, on the example of Canada".

For now, Mr. Johnson is hanging tough, arguing on Monday that rather than accept alignment with European rules, he would prefer a trading relationship similar to that of Australia, which has no free trade agreement with the European Union.

British business wants a deal badly, however, and the pound sterling fell by about 1 percent on the currency markets after Mr. Johnson spoke.

Each of the remaining 27 member states will have veto rights over the new agreement with the British.

In Brussels, Barnier unveiled the EU's draft negotiating mandate and said that negotiations can begin "immediately" once the mandate is approved by the EU Council at a special summit on 20 February.

"At best it removes tariffs and quotas", he said. A free trade deal was only of limited value, he said.

Stephen Castle reported from London and Matina Stevis-Gridneff reported from Brussels.