British Govt Challenges EU ‘Posturing’ on Trade Deal, Baits Bloc on Twitter


The British government has challenged the European Union’s “posturing” on a potential trade deal at the end of the 2020 Brexit “transition” and baited its chief negotiator on Twitter.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s lead negotiator, had claimed that a Canada-style trade deal is not available to Britain, with the bloc insisting its former member-state will have to submit to so-called “dynamic alignment” with EU rules — i.e. continuing to adopt all of its regulations, enforced by EU judges — due to its great “proximity” to Continental Europe.

The press office for 10 Downing Street, the British prime minister’s official residence, has pushed back, highlighting material produced by the EU during the first stage of negotiations with Theresa May which indicated that “a Canada type [Free Trade Agreement]” was in fact “the only available relationship for the UK.”

“Now they say that’s not on offer after all. [Michael Barnier] what’s changed?” they ask.

“If you look back right to the very beginning what the EU was offering the UK was a Canada-style deal,” said Greg Hands, the British trade minister, in comments to Sky News reported by The Telegraph.

“In fact, one of the slides that Michel Barnier presented to European Council members some two or three years ago included precisely a Canada-style deal. So that is what the government, our government, is looking to get,” he added.

“Obviously there will be a bit of posturing from Brussels as there always is. But our mission is clear.”

The EU are said to be furious over the Downing Street tweet, describing it as “below the belt”.

The EU’s claims that deal like the Canadian agreement, CETA, would lack sufficient provisions for the “enforcement” of “fair competition standards” do seem dubious in light of the European Commissioner for responsible for trade, Ireland’s Phil Hogan, having recently written to Belgian politicians assuring them that CETA does indeed contain “rules on environment and labour [which] are anchored in a network of underlying international conventions [and] are legally binding and enforceable”.

“Given that the EU is praising the level playing field commitments in CETA it’s surprising that they’ve suggested they would not be willing to accept similar provisions in a trade deal with the UK,” a government source told The Times.

“There is no reference to the [European Court of Justice] in CETA, and no commitment to dynamic alignment on regulation. In its current form the EU mandate asks the UK to commit to aligning with the EU’s standards forever.”

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