- The EU won’t agree to a trade deal with the UK unless European fishing boats have access to British waters.
- The bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said a deal should include “reciprocal access to markets and waters.”
- Boris Johnson has insisted the UK will reclaim its fishing waters after Brexit.
- Barnier said Brussels would be “very demanding” in insisting that the UK would have to follow EU rules in exchange for high levels of access to European markets.
- Johnson in a speech on Monday ruled out signing up to EU rules in any new free trade deal.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The European Union will only agree a trade deal with the United Kingdom if Boris Johnson gives European fishing boats access to UK waters, the bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned on Monday.
Barnier outlined his “very demanding” mandate for negotiations with the UK, and said there was an “inextricable link” between a free trade agreement and continued reciprocal access to British waters for European trawler men.
Presenting his draft negotiating mandate on Monday, Barnier said: “Our free-trade agreement must include an agreement on fisheries. This agreement should provide reciprocal access to markets and waters, which contains quota shares.”
Barnier’s comments risk sparking a row with Johnson’s government, which has insisted that the UK will reclaim full control of its fishing waters as part of its departure from the EU, which finally took place on Friday.
This sort of arrangement would also likely be governed by the EU’s European Court of Justice, which the UK government is determined will not play a role in settling disputes between London and Brussels after Brexit.
Barnier also warned that Britain would have to say aligned to a whole set of EU rules if it wants a close trading relationship with Brussels, to prevent British firms from being able to undercut their European counterparts.
He said that tariff and quota-free access to EU markets would require “a mechanism to uphold the high standards we have on social, environmental, tax, and state aid matters today and in their future developments.”
The question of how aligned the EU and UK will be after Brexit is set to define this year’s trade talks.
Barnier said Brussels would be “very demanding” in its insistence that the UK should not be allowed to stop following EU rules and said its objective was “to ensure that divergence doesn’t become an instrument for unfair competition whereby there would be disadvantages for EU industry.”
It came as Boris Johnson laid out the UK’s own approach to talks in a speech in London.
The prime minister insisted that Britain would not seek to undercut the EU in its future trade, and said that the UK in some cases would adhere to higher than those followed by the EU.
“We are not leaving the EU to undermine European standards. We will not engage in any kind of dumping, whether commercial, or social, or environmental,” he said in a speech in London.
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“And don’t just listen to what I say or what we say, look at what we do.
“And I say respectfully to our friends that in all those three crucial areas the anxiety should really be on our side of the Channel, not yours.”
“Look at state aid: France spends twice as much on state aid as the UK, and Germany three times as much, who is using subsidies to undercut? Not the UK.”
Johnson said he would be willing to accept tariffs on trade with the EU if it meant that London was free to diverge from Brussels on rules and regulations, a blow to businesses which are hoping for a close trading relationship.
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