The EU and UK formally agreed their negotiating mandates for talks on a new trade and political partnership, setting the stage for a bruising battle on regulatory standards.
The bloc will seek to broker “a fair and balanced partnership with a robust framework of governance”, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters. He added that the talks would be “complex, demanding and difficult”.
“We are ready to offer a highly ambitious trade deal to the UK,” said Barnier.
“But the UK cannot expect high quality access to the single market if its not prepared to accept guarantees that competition remains open and fair, free and fair.”
The mandate agreed by ministers at the General Affairs Council is similar to the draft set out by the European Commission earlier this month.
The EU is demanding that the UK maintain “common high standards, and corresponding high standards over time with union standards as a reference point”, while provisions on fisheries “should uphold existing reciprocal access conditions, quota shares and the traditional activity of the Union fleet.”
However, it has left out references to seeking a deal on regulatory equivalence for financial services by June 2020 and a data adequacy ruling by the end of 2020. [...]
The different negotiating stances, combined with a tight timeline – negotiators have ten months to agree and ratify an EU-UK trade pact before the post-Brexit transition period ends on 31 December – have increased concerns of a ‘no deal’ scenario and a new cliff-edge for businesses and individuals.
“The pressure is not being put by us. The British government is putting the pressure of time on these negotiations,” Barnier told reporters. [...]
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