According to a Reuters report published on Thursday 6th July 2017 at 08.39 BST, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, is to send a clear warning to British ministers and others who talk loosely, some may say hopefully, of a so called “frictionless trade deal” after the UK leaves the EU. He makes it clear that this is “not possible.”
In notes prepared for delivery at an EU business forum in Brussels, Mr Barnier reiterates that only membership of both the single market and the customs union allowed for the current “frictionless” trading arrangements.
In a rather cutting rebuke to stated positions by several UK politicians and other commentators he says:
“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,” he said. “I have heard some people in the UK argue that one can leave the single market and build a customs union to achieve ‘frictionless trade’ – that is not possible.”
His submission is that he is “unsure the EU’s refusal to grant single market access piecemeal and insistence on control of standards in the single market ‘have been fully understood across the Channel’”.
In a parody of an oft used phrase emanating from some people in the UK he states:
“A fair deal is far better than no deal,”
“A trading relationship with a country that does not belong to the European Union obviously involves friction,”
Mr Barnier cites
“disruption to cross-border traders processing value-added tax (VAT) and a need for all EU imports of animals and animal products to be tested at borders.”
“Those issues are of particular concern in Ireland, where farming businesses on either side of the new UK-EU border on the island fear disruption. Barnier repeated EU willingness to make a priority of agreeing border issues on Ireland, where leaders on all sides fear a “hard” frontier could undermine the fragile peace in the British province of Northern Ireland.”
Whatever side of the Brexit debate you may be on it is clear that Michel Barnier is making all the running in stating the EU’s negotiating positions clearly and succinctly.
Reference for this Brexit blog