WORLD

Canada-Style Trade Deal For UK Ruled Out: EU Aide

Stefaan De Rynck, senior advisor of chief EU negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier, said Britain is too geographically close to the EU for a Canada-style trade deal without guarantees that Britain will not undercut European standards.
20 Feb 2020 22:48
Canada-Style Trade Deal For UK Ruled Out: EU Aide
People are seen in front of buildings in the City of London, London, Britain, on Feb. 1, 2020. (Photo by Stephen Chung/Xinhua)

The future relationship between Britain and the European Union (EU) is a “different ball game” to the one the EU has with Canada due to Britain’s proximity to the bloc, a key EU aide said here Wednesday.

Addressing a conference at the London School of Economics (LSE), Stefaan De Rynck, senior advisor of chief EU negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier, said Britain is too geographically close to the EU for a Canada-style trade deal without guarantees that Britain will not undercut European standards.

Following the end of Britain’s EU membership on Jan. 31, both sides have until the end of this year to strike a future trade deal. Britain will continue to follow EU rules during the transition period ending Dec. 31.

De Rynck’s comments came after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost, called for a “Canada free trade agreement-type relationship” and urged the EU to drop its demand for post-Brexit regulatory alignment.

“We bring to the negotiations not some clever tactical positioning but the fundamentals of what it means to be an independent country,” Frost said Monday in a speech in Brussels.

A protester with his face painted in the colors of an EU flag prepares to attend the "Together for the Final Say" event at the Parliament Square in London, Britain, on Oct. 19, 2019. (Photo by Stephen Chung/Xinhua)

A protester with his face painted in the colors of an EU flag prepares to attend the “Together for the Final Say” event at the Parliament Square in London, Britain, on Oct. 19, 2019. (Photo by Stephen Chung/Xinhua)

In response, De Rynck said: “Some in the UK now seem to want to become Canadians. But Dover is much closer to Calais than Ottawa is…Proximity matters, distance matters. What also matters is the interconnectedness between our economies.”

He said trade deals struck by the EU are expected to include “level playing field” commitments, adding that it is not a specific demand on Britain.

“Canada and Japan are also partners on upholding standards. Every trade deal concluded has level playing field commitments,” De Rynck added.

Barnier said Tuesday that Frost’s remarks in Brussels breached Johnson’s previous commitments to the EU, saying such an offer for a Canada-style trade deal “was not on the table”.

Wednesday’s conference at the LSE was called to look at the financial consequences of Britain’s Brexit negotiations with the EU.

Formal trade talks between the two sides are scheduled to start in March.

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