EU Chief Negotiator Says ‘Consequences’ for Brexit, No ‘Frictionless Trade’

Barnier
EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty

The European Union’s (EU) hardline chief Brexit negotiator has said it is impossible for the UK to win “frictionless trade” with the bloc and that freedom of movement is “indivisible”.

“I have heard some people in the UK argue that one can leave the single market and keep all of its benefits. That is not possible,” Michel Barnier told the EU’s economic and social committee, claiming any deal would have “significant consequences” for business.

He laid out thee red lines for the EU in up-and-coming negotiations. “One: The free movement of persons, goods, services, and capital are indivisible – indivisible! We cannot let the Single Market unravel.

“Number two: There can be no sector-by-sector participation in the Single Market.

“Number three: The EU must maintain full sovereignty for deciding regulations.”

“These three points were already made clear – very clear – by the European Council and the European Parliament. But it is not clear whether they have been fully understood across the channel,” he added.

Talking about the UK’s future trade relations with the EU, he insisted that “a trading relationship with a country that does not belong to the European Union obviously involves friction”.

Mr. Barnier also attacked Prime Minister Theresa May’s assertion that “no deal is better than a bad deal” for the UK. According to The Telegraph, he said:

“We want to be ready for all eventualities, including ‘no deal’, a possibility that has been mentioned again recently by several British ministers…

“In practice, ‘no deal’ would worsen the ‘lose-lose’ situation which is bound to result from Brexit. And the UK would have more to lose than its partners,” the French former commissioner, said.

“There is no reasonable justification for the ‘no deal’ scenario. There is no sense in making the consequences of Brexit even worse…to my British partners, I say: a fair deal is far better than no deal.”

In the past, Mr. Barnier has said Brexit will not be “quick and painless”, demanded the UK pays a 100 billion euro “divorce bill”, and suggested EU courts retain their supremacy over British law after Brexit.

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