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24th Jul 2021

Barnier to UK: will you keep EU rules?

  • Michel Barnier set out the basis for any future relationship with the UK (Photo: European Commission)

The EU's future relationship with the UK should be based on common rules, and Britain needs to decide if it will continue to follow EU rules, the bloc's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said Thursday (9 November), as a sixth set of Brexit talks got under way in Brussels.

"There is no future partnership without common rules of the game. There will be no close commercial relationship without [a] level playing field," Barnier said at a conference in Rome.

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He insisted that the UK should decide if it wants to align itself in a post-Brexit world with the European regulatory model.

"This rules of the game are not so easy to establish, because for the first time in negotiating with a third country, the issue will be more about managing regulatory divergences than encouraging convergence," he said.

"The United Kingdom has chosen to leave the European Union. Will it also want to move away from the European model? That's another question," Barnier stated.

"It is up to the British to tell us whether they still adhere to the European model. Their answer is important because it drives the discussion on our future partnership and the conditions for its ratification".

The EU negotiator noted that comments like the one by US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, calling on the UK to break away from EU rules on food, environment, sanitary, fiscal and social issues, "raise questions".

Ross warned on Monday (6 November) in London that any post-Brexit trade deal with Washington will depend on the UK scrapping rules set by Brussels.

Talks on the future relationship and trade issues will not start until the EU and the UK reach sufficient progress on the key issues of citizens' rights, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and the financial settlement.

The UK hopes EU leaders will give the green light to the second phase of negotiations at their December summit.

During that second phase of talks the EU and the UK need to decide what sort of a relationship the two want. Discussions on a specific trade deal can only start after that.

Barnier warned of the consequences of the UK leaving the single market and the customs union.

He reiterated that the UK cannot "cherry-pick" from the rights and responsibilities that came with the single market and customs union.

Barnier was speaking in Rome, traveling back to Brussels later on Thursday. Brexit talks got underway in the Belgian capital in the meantime.

The EU wants the UK to spell out what it is willing to pay from the financial commitments it has made as an EU member.

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As Brexit talks continue in Brussels, the EU-27 begins discussion on how future relations may look - but will not put anything on paper unless the UK reveals how much it is willing to pay for the 'divorce' settlement.

UK pledges easy registration for EU citizens after Brexit

Ahead of Brexit negotiations later this week, the UK government insists that its planned new system for EU citizens applying for a "settled status"after Brexit will be "streamlined, low-cost and user-friendly."

Brexit talks to resume next week

UK and EU officials will get together next Thursday to try to achieve "sufficient progress" by December on key issues for unlocking the next phase of negotiations.

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The EU has launched internal preparations for phase two of Brexit talks, but a December breakthrough only possible if UK gives more detail on divorce issues first.

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The issue will be discussed on Wednesday at a video conference between EU Commission vice president Maroš Šefcovic, British cabinet minister Michael Gove, Northern Ireland's first minister Arlene Foster, and deputy first minister Michelle O'Neill.

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