The European Union is willing to negotiate a highly ambitious trade deal with the U.K., but “this exceptional offer is conditional,” according to the EU’s Brexit chief negotiator Michel Barnier.
Barnier Monday laid out the draft negotiating directives for the future relationship negotiations with the U.K. for journalists. The European Union is willing to negotiate an agreement that includes “zero tariffs and zero quota on all goods entering the single market,” he said. Brussels also wants an ambitious agreement in services “with wide sectoral coverage” that includes “digital trade, intellectual property and access to our respective procurement markets.”
But certain conditions must be met by London, Barnier warned. “We are ready to offer all this even though we know that there will be strong competition between the U.K., our immediate neighbor, and the EU. Competition is normal. But because of our geographical proximity and economic interdependence, our draft mandate also makes clear that this exceptional offer is conditional on at least two things.”
The first is a level playing field over the long term. “We need to make sure competition is and remains open and fair,” Barnier said.
The second is that a free-trade agreement must also include an agreement on fisheries. “This agreement should provide continued reciprocal access to markets and to waters with stable quota shares,” Barnier added.
The draft mandate will now be discussed among EU countries. The EU negotiator said he hopes it is agreed on by the Council of the EU on February 25 so that negotiations with the U.K. can start soon after that.