Chief negotiator of the European Union Michel Barnier warned that trade talks between the EU and the United Kingdom could get into trouble if the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not adhere to the red lines drawn by the EU. This is in line with what other EU leaders have been warning the UK about.
A common rule book of standards, state aid and taxes can be the deal breakers for any deal to prevent a ‘race to the bottom’, insisted the bloc’s chief negotiator.
However Johnson on Saturday said that the UK will not agree to any deal which forces the UK to get aligned with the EU which sets up a possible showdown during the meeting of trade officials in the New Year.
Revealing that he discussed an ‘ambitious trade agreement’ with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, Johnson gave a clear signal that he is ready to create new economic and trade partnerships and deals with countries other than the EU.
The major challenge for Johnson is to secure a trading relationship with the EU before the end of the transition period next December now since his withdrawal bill has been approved by the House of Commons.
Johnson declined to answer questions from reporters about whether he was pursuing a hard Brexit while on his trip to a military base in Estonia today to dish up Christmas lunch to British troops.
However their positions have been made clear by European politicians, including the Irish premier, and have said that any deal that does not include policies for safeguarding common standards of goods crossing the English Channel would not be acceptable.
Those views were echoed by EU chief negotiator Barnier saying that his core aim was to devise a deal that would be able to safeguard common social and environmental standards.
He wrote for the Project Syndicate website: “Like the UK, we will keep our strategic interests in mind. ‘We know that competing on social and environmental standards – rather than on skills, innovation, and quality – leads only to a race to the bottom that puts workers, consumers, and the planet on the losing side. Thus, any free-trade agreement must provide for a level playing field on standards, state aid, and tax matters.”
While brokering a comprehensive free-trade deal with the EU is his aim, threat of derailment of the plans has been issued by leaders in Brussels.
It is less likely that there would be a deal possible with the UK because of Johnson’s leaning towards a ‘harder Brexit’ after his conclusive victory in the elections, said Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.
Such a view point is based on fears in the EU that the UK will try to ‘undercut’ Europe on food, health and product safety following its exit from the block. It is increasingly unlikely that Ireland will have a good trade deal from Brexit, he warned, because of the position that has been taken by the UK prime minister since the election victory.
“It is going to be difficult to secure a good trade deal for Ireland, principally because Boris Johnson has fixed on a harder Brexit than we anticipated under his predecessor or at the time of the referendum, and that is one where he talks very much about divergence,” Varadkar told journalists. “’The harder approach being taken by Prime Minister Johnson is a risk to us and that is evident,” he said
(Adapted from DailyMail.uk)