British government publishes Brexit negotiating approach, as it criticises Europe’s ‘ideological’ one

A file picture dated 20 February 2017 shows an European Union flag fluttering in front of parliament with the Elizabeth Tower, commonly known as Big Ben, in London, Britain. EPA/ANDY RAIN

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The British government Tuesday published the draft documents setting out its approach to negotiations on a future relationship with the EU as Michael Gove blasted Brussels over its “ideological approach” to the Brexit talks.

In publishing the positions, the UK’s Brexit negotiator, through a letter to the EU’s negotiator, said that “at this moment in negotiations, what is on offer is not a fair free trade relationship between close economic partners, but a relatively low-quality trade agreement coming with unprecedented EU oversight of our laws and institutions.”

The British government published texts online on a draft free-trade agreement, a draft fisheries plan, a draft air transport arrangement, draft social security coordination plan, draft civil aviation safety agreement, draft energy deal, draft civil nuclear cooperation plan, draft law enforcement and judicial cooperation proposal, and a proposal on how to deal with unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, and the “readmission of those residing without authorisation.

David Frost, Boris Johnson’s chief Brexit negotiator, in the letter to Michel Barnier, accused Brussels of demanding the U.K. to sign up to obligations on state aid that “any democratic country” would reject. 

In the letter, Frost argues that the country is very clear that they are not seeking to negotiate directly with Member States and that it is for you, as the EU’s negotiator, to manage any differences of perspective that may emerge.

We do not seek to remain part of the Single Market or Customs Union, as we do not believe this is in the UK’s interest.” It adds that (the UK) “finds it perplexing that the EU, instead of seeking to settle rapidly a high-quality set of agreements with a close economic partner, is instead insisting on additional, unbalanced, and unprecedented provisions in a range of areas, as a precondition for agreement between us.”

Frost also says that they find surprising the fact that the EU not only insists on additional provisions, but is also not willing even to replicate provisions in previous Free Trade Agreements.

“For example, your proposals to us contain no provision for mutual recognition of conformity assessment (which the EU agreed with or proposed to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the US); no sector-specific provisions for key industries with particular technical barriers such as motor vehicles, medicinal products , organics and chemicals (agreed with or proposed to one or more of Canada, South Korea, Chile and the US, among others); and no equivalence mechanism for SPS measures (agreed with or proposed to Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico and Mercosur)”, the letter states.





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