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British PM threatens to walk, giving EU four months to make a Brexit deal

BRITISH Prime Minister Boris Johnson has informed the European Union (EU) he'll walk away from the negotiating table in June if it's not clear he's going to get a Canada-style free trade agreement for the UK

03 March 2020 - 19:00

BRITISH Prime Minister Boris Johnson has informed the European Union (EU) he'll walk away from the negotiating table in June if it's not clear he's going to get a Canada-style free trade agreement for the UK.

The recently published UK's negotiating mandate for the next stage of Brexit was in many areas close to what the EU published recently. The main differences were around how closely the UK has to stick to EU regulations - the so-called level playing field, how the deal will be structured and governed, and fishing rights in UK waters.



'It is a vision of a relationship based on friendly cooperation between sovereign equals,' the government said. 'With both parties respecting one another's legal autonomy. The government will not negotiate any arrangement in which the UK does not have control over its own laws and political life.'



The UK is setting a tough timetable for the negotiations, saying it wants the broad outline of an agreement by June, so the deal can be finalised by September. Britain will assess in June whether the talks are on course to succeed, and then decide whether to continue or to 'focus solely' on preparing to leave the EU's regulatory orbit without a deal on December 31.



'We want the best possible trading relationship with the EU, but in the pursuit of the deal, we will not trade away our sovereignty,' Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told the House of Commons.



While the EU sees June as a stock-taking opportunity, it has said it will keep trying to get a deal until the last possible moment, reports Bloomberg.



In another potential sticking point, the UK said it won't agree to EU institutions, including the bloc's Court of Justice, having jurisdiction in the UK.



To the EU, that marks a shift from the commitments Britain made in the Political Declaration, the non-binding part of its Withdrawal Agreement with the bloc. The UK wants the right to have its own policy on subsidies and tax and to refuse any European Court of Justice jurisdiction. This would make it impossible, under European law, for the EU to enforce any deal in which the UK pledged to follow the bloc's state aid rules after Brexit.



The details of the UK mandate show that, on financial services, it's not looking for a closer relationship than a non-EU country would expect. But Britain does want safeguards against the EU suddenly withdrawing the right for UK financial services companies to trade in the bloc.


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