The Independent (UK) The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has taken apart Theresa May‘s new Chequers Brexit plan, just hours after the embattled Prime Minister insisted there would be no further compromise on her side.
Speaking in Brussels after a meeting with EU national ministers Michel Barnier raised a wide variety of serious concerns with the PM’s proposals on customs control and single market regulations for goods.
Mr Barnier said Ms May’s complicated proposal for customs would likely create huge amounts of new paperwork, warning: “Brexit cannot and will not justify additional bureaucracy”.
The Commission chief negotiator, who said he had told member states to prepare for a “no deal” scenario, also raised a series of concerns with the PM’s plan to keep the UK following a “common rulebook” of single market rules for goods.
Ms May had hoped the proposal would allow frictionless trade with the EU, but Mr Barnier said the plan to exclude UK services from following EU rules could give a “significant competitive advantage” to Britain and that agreeing to such a policy might not be in the EU’s own best interests.
He also suggested it would be unreasonable to exclude some goods such as animal feed from the rulebook, as proposed by the UK side, stating: “We have a duty of care to protect consumers in the single market and on which basis could we accept the free circulation of goods?”
The chief negotiator also said the EU could not delegate collection of its own customs duties to a country that was not a member state – suggesting that the backbone of the PM’s proposal might not even be “legally feasible”. Mr Barnier also said there would be “practical problems” determining which tariff to apply to goods and that there was ”major risk of fraud”.
But he was was careful not to reject the plan outright, phrasing his criticism as questions to the UK negotiators. Mr Barnier said the plan was positive in many ways, including the UK signing up to EU “level playing field” competition rules, the creation of a free trade agreement, and on security cooperation.