Negotiations on the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union start on the wrong foot: Boris Johnson was threatening on Thursday, refusing to allow his country to align with Community rules in exchange for market access European. Formal negotiations are scheduled to open on Monday.
The Brexit soap opera continues. The British government threatened, on Thursday, February 27, to slam the door of the post-Brexit negotiations with the European Union in June for lack of rapid progress, excluding the alignment with the community rules demanded by Brussels in exchange for a free agreement – advantageous exchange.
The publication of the British negotiating mandate confirmed the deep divide existing with Brussels before the start, on Monday 2 March, of the complex discussions, after the exit of the United Kingdom from the European bloc at the end of January.
Despite the difficulty of the task, the British and Europeans have ten months to agree on their new relationship, before the end, on December 31, of the transition period during which the United Kingdom continues to apply European rules. London categorically rules out extending it.
“This leaves enough time, albeit limited, for the UK and the EU to reach an agreement,” said the conservative-led executive Boris Johnson.
In the absence of serious prospects of agreement in June, London threatens to withdraw from the negotiations, raising the specter of a “no-deal” with potentially disastrous economic consequences on both sides of the Channel.
Responding to London’s warning that lowered the pound against the euro, the European Commission said “continue to prepare” for failed negotiations. A spokeswoman said, however, that it was “too early to predict the outcome of the negotiations”, which Brussels is tackling “in a constructive spirit”.
Avoiding unfair competition at the gates of the EU
One of the stumbling blocks is Brussels’ demand that the United Kingdom continue to comply with certain EU rules over the long term, in particular with regard to State aid, environment, labor law or taxation, in return for a very wide opening of the European market, in particular without customs duty for goods.
“The government will not negotiate any arrangement where the UK has no control over its own laws and political life,” it said in its mandate released two days after the EU approved its own document.
“This means that we will not accept any obligation for our laws to align with those of the EU, or for the European institutions, including the Court of Justice, to be competent in the United Kingdom,” he said. , saying, however, that they wanted “friendly cooperation” between two “sovereign and equal” parties.
The objective of the 27 is to avoid unfair competition at their doorstep. But the government of Boris Johnson does not hear this ear: the aim of Brexit was precisely to ensure “economic and political independence” of the United Kingdom, even if that implies having more trade barriers.
In particular, the country wants to have control over its own state aid regulations. But he said he was open to “reciprocal commitments not to weaken or reduce the level of protection” existing in labor law or the environment.
Becoming “an independent coastal state”
Another bone of contention is the highly sensitive issue of fishing. The EU wants to “maintain reciprocal access” to the territorial waters of the two parties. A position is difficult to accept for London despite the warning from the EU which conditions the conclusion of a commercial partnership to an agreement on fishing.
Insisting on their will to become again “an independent coastal State” at the end of 2020, the British intend to negotiate each year with the EU access to its waters, as Norway or Iceland do today.
Boris Johnson has repeatedly said he wants a basic trade deal like the one the EU has negotiated with Canada that will preserve his country’s economic autonomy.
Difficult, judge Brussels: accessing the single market requires respecting its rules; and the United Kingdom is a special case because of the deep ties forged during five decades of membership in the EU, its first trading partner.
The two parties said they were ready for the possibility of a lack of agreement, which would imply that the economic relations between Brussels and London are governed by the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), much less advantageous because they set customs duties for the goods.