United Kingdom financial firms get no European Union access unless they respect rules

Britain's Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss said Britain is seeking far-reaching reductions in tariffs from a trade deal with the US. — Reuters pic

"Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out in Greenwich his vision for a post-Brexit trade agreement with the EU". The reforms were forced by Macron blocking the start of negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania - a decision European Union chiefs described as a historic error - and demanding changes to the bloc's so-called enlargement process.

Serbia and Montenegro are the most advanced in their negotiations and could join the bloc later this decade.

Despite the British government's repeated assertions that a deal could be agreed quite swiftly, European Union officials have not been too optimistic about the timetable.

"If you can agree on this, as well as on robust commitment towards a level playing field, and the necessary enforcement regime... we will achieve a very ambitious free and fair trade agreement", said Barnier.

With Johnson adopting a combative mode, Brussels was not far behind in drawing its battle lines.

Mr Barnier told reporters in Brussels: "It's clear that the agreement that we wish to have in the interests of United Kingdom fishermen and in the interests of European fishermen - I call that reciprocal access to our territorial waters and our markets - that agreement on fisheries will be inextricably linked to the trade agreement, as indeed will be... the agreement on the level playing field agreed with Boris Johnson". "If they want to have access to European financial markets they can, of course, but on our terms, with our rules and our supervisors", La Maire added.

The former French minister said this would be a top priority during negotiations and that he would strive to deny Britain "unfair competitive advantages".

The EU would require "mechanisms to uphold the high standards we have in social, environmental climate, tax and state aid matters today, and in their future developments", said Barnier. "This agreement should provide for continued, reciprocal access to markets and to waters with stable quota shares". "That won't happen for nothing, or in any kind of condition".

Barnier expressed his disappointment over the duration of the transition phase and said that Brussels will be prepared for no deal. Hence, UK businesses need to start proactively war-gaming how to stay competitive in the post Brexit era with or without a deal with the EU.

"If we can not manage by the end of the year, there will be a widespread cliff".

While British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said "taking back control" of fishing was one of the prizes of Brexit, the French and European Union remarks sought to show the extent to which both London and Brussels had much to gain and much to lose.

Dangling what is likely to be a red rag for hard Brexiteers, Barnier added that an EU-UK pact "must include an agreement on fisheries".



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