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EU offers zero-tariff trade deal if UK keeps to commitment on 'level playing field'

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EU offers zero-tariff trade deal if UK keeps to commitment on 'level playing field'

Michel Barnier - Photo © European Union 2020

(BRUSSELS) - The EU offered the UK a tariff-free trade deal Monday, so long as it kept to commitments it made in the political declaration to a 'level playing field' and preventing unfair competitive advantages.

The European Commission said its recommendation to the Council to open negotiations on a new partnership with the United Kingdom is is based on the existing European Council guidelines and conclusions, as well as the Political Declaration agreed between the EU and the United Kingdom in October 2019.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said a free trade agreement in services would have wide sector coverage ranging from business services to telecommunication and environmental services. And the EU would also be looking to include intellectual property and access to the parties' respective public procurement markets.

The EU executive's recommendation includes a comprehensive proposal for negotiating directives, defining the scope and terms of the future partnership that the European Union envisages with the United Kingdom.

These directives cover all areas of interest for the negotiations, including trade and economic cooperation, law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, foreign policy, security and defence, participation in Union programmes and other thematic areas of cooperation.

A dedicated chapter on governance provides an outline for an overall governance framework covering all areas of economic and security cooperation.

M Barnier said the need to ensure a level playing field over the long term would involve "mechanisms to uphold EU standards on social, environmental, climate, tax and state aid matters".

A key demand of the EU's for the trade agreement would be the inclusion of an agreement on fisheries. This, he said, should provide for "continued, reciprocal access to markets and to waters with stable quota shares".

M Barnier was clear, however, that UK financial services suppliers would no longer have the passporting rights they used to enjoy under Union legislation. And that all imports of goods for services supplied in the EU would need to comply with EU rules on safety, health or other standards protection.

There was a need for urgency, said the Commission's president Ursula von der Leyen: "It's now time to get down to work. Time is short. We will negotiate in a fair and transparent manner, but we will defend EU interests, and the interests of our citizens, right until the end."

Proposal for negotiating directives for a new partnership with the United Kingdom

The EU and the United Kingdom – Forging a new partnership: Guide to the negotiations

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