Published: Tue, February 18, 2020
Economy | By

Top UK negotiator in Brussels to set out Brexit goals

Top UK negotiator in Brussels to set out Brexit goals

EU negotiators have said that for a Canada-style deal, Britain would have to adopt a level playing field with the bloc on state aid, environment, employment and other regulations to guard against unfair competition with the European single market.

"It is central to our vision that we must have the ability to set laws that suit us - to claim the right that every other non-EU country in the world has", Frost said.

The UK is reportedly preparing to reject several of the stipulations contained in a draft European Commission negotiating mandate, including one that would force the UK to abide by EU tax and workers' rights rules.

While the European Union in general, and France in particular, has been holding a strong line on the level playing field issue, there have been signs of pragmatism on how a level playing field is defined and adjudicated.

Frost, who described himself in the lecture as "one of the few Brexit-voting diplomats" in the country, said the United Kingdom would not extend the current, status-quo Brexit transition period that runs until the end of this year.

He will also reiterate the government's insistence that it will not extend the transition period beyond the end of this year.

The EU has said that the United Kingdom setting its own rules would be possible but would make a trade deal less advantageous. Frost said that London was prepared to accept an "Australia-style" free trade agreement with the bloc if its member states continue to have doubts about the terms of a no-quotas, no-tariffs deal.

On January 1st, 2021, he said, the United Kingdom will "recover [its] political and economic independence in full".

The EU has repeatedly warned that the United Kingdom can not expect to enjoy continued "high-quality" market access if it insists on diverging from EU social and environmental standards.

Speaking on Sunday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian predicted the two sides would "rip each other apart" as they strove for advantage in the negotiations.

"As the United Kingdom and European Union start their next phase of negotiations, I want this issue of associate citizenship to be at the heart of talks about our future relationship".

David Frost's speech is either a real warning that a breakdown is very possibly before the end of the year, or an attempt at inflating the sovereignty issue to such an extent that if the European Union take a pragmatic approach it will be presented by the United Kingdom as a victory.

"But that is part of negotiations - everyone will defend their own interests".

That initiative was floated last year by the European Parliament's point man on Brexit, Guy Verhofstadt, as a nod to the close relations Britain nurtured with EU counterparts over the 47 years it was in the bloc.

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