the tories want enmity between britain & western europe because the pindos demand it

Britain, on trade collision course with EU, says it could walk away
Elizabeth Piper, Kylie MacLellan, William James, Reuters, Feb 27 2020

LONDON – Britain unveiled a negotiating mandate on Thursday for talks with the EU that puts it on a collision course with Brussels, saying it was ready to walk away if “good progress” was not made by June. After officially leaving the EU last month, Britain has until the end of the year to negotiate a trade deal and agreements on everything from fishing to transport, to replace more than 40 years of closely aligned political and economic relations. Having accepted that, by leaving the EU’s customs union and single market, British businesses will encounter new “frictions” in trade with the bloc, the government has made its stance clear: self-determination must trump economic concerns. So if, by June, “good progress” has not been made on Britain’s demand for what it calls a “standard” free trade agreement or even on the “least controversial areas” of the talks, London said it would focus on preparations for a sharp break with the EU. Cabinet office minister Michael Gove told parliament as he unveiled the mandate:

At the end of the transition period on Dec 31, the UK will fully recover its economic and political independence. We want the best possible trading relationship with the EU, but in pursuit of a deal we will not trade away our sovereignty.

Boris Johnson, the face of Britain’s campaign to leave the EU in 2016, vowed to get Brexit done at last year’s election and, after winning a large majority, has charged his team with the goal of “taking back control.” Both sides say they want a deal to be agreed before the deadline of Dec 31 2020 so that trade can flow, albeit with some additional checks, and that arrangements on issues such as aviation can roll over seamlessly. But with the two sides unable to agree on even the format of talks scheduled to begin on Monday, the negotiations look set to be a battle of wills. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said Brussels had taken “note” of the mandate, tweeting:

We will stick to all our prior commitments in the political declaration. We want an ambitious and fair partnership with the UK in the future.

Britain’s main opposition Labour Party, locked in a leadership battle, said Brexit was “far from done.” Paul Blomfield, a Labour spokesman on Brexit:

The government’s ambition for our new relationship with our most important trading partner is frankly underwhelming.

With a large majority in parliament, Johnson and his team feel he has won public backing for a clean break in ties to restore what he calls British sovereignty. That is at odds with Brussels’ pursuit of a closer trading relationship. At the heart of the conflict is Britain’s demand for a trade deal along the lines of one between the EU and Canada. The EU has ruled that out, saying Britain, being a neighbour of the bloc, is a greater threat to the bloc’s market as it does more business than Canada. It fears Britain could undercut its market by lowering standards. Gove told parliament:

Geography is no reason to undermine democracy. To be clear, we will not be seeking to dynamically align with EU rules on EU terms governed by EU laws and EU institutions.

This in effect ruled out a demand from the EU to adhere to its “level playing field,” shorthand for agreed baseline rules on environmental standards, labour regulations and state aid. Robert Gardener, Director of Government Relations at the law firm Hogan Lovells, said:

It’s clear that the government has made a political calculation that delivering Brexit requires the autonomy to diverge but not necessarily the decision to diverge.

If a standard trade agreement is not on offer, Britain has said it will pursue what it calls a relationship similar to that established between the EU and Australia. At the moment, much of EU-Australia trade runs along basic WTO default rules, though there are specific agreements for certain goods. Other stumbling blocks include fishing. Britain says that, as an independent coastal nation, it will not trade away its fishing rights. Britain is also demanding “legally binding” obligations on access to the EU market for its important financial services industry, something the EU says is not on the agenda. Gove said:

We want and we will always seek the best possible relationship with our friends and allies in Europe but we will always put the welfare of the British people first. That means ensuring British people exercise the democratic control over our destiny for which they voted so decisively.

Britain wants binding obligations on access to EU financial market
Huw Jones, Reuters, Feb 27 2020

LONDON – Britain said on Thursday it wanted “legally binding” obligations on access to the European Union financial market, coupled with arrangements for maintaining trust as rules evolve. London, Europe’s biggest financial centre, could be locked out of its biggest export market for services such as banking, insurance and asset management if no access is granted to the EU market from next January. In its mandate for trade talks with Brussels, Britain said a deal should provide a “predictable, transparent and business-friendly environment” for cross-border financial services activities. the document said:

The agreement should include legally binding obligations on market access and fair competition.

The EU has spoken only of “voluntary” cooperation in financial regulation. While a formal EU-UK trade deal would be legally binding once ratified, the European Commission said on Thursday that financial market access would not be included as that was a unilateral decision by Brussels. The financial sector has said that the EU system of market access, known as equivalence, is opaque and far patchier than Britain’s current unfettered access. It can also be withdrawn in 30 days, making it unreliable. Britain says it wants arrangements that will allow regulators on both sides to cooperate and build “enduring confidence” that can deal with rules as they “evolve.” Britain fears that the EU would seize on any divergence from EU financial rules as an excuse for what incoming Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey called a “punch-up” with UK regulators, leading to a denial of access. Markus Ferber, a senior German centre-right member of the European Parliament, which can veto an EU-UK trade deal, said EU and UK rules would evolve over time. he said:

There needs to be a mechanism to ensure that equivalence is maintained five years down the road. Regular reviews of the equivalence status are therefore necessary.

Britain and the EU had already agreed to assess each other for financial market access by the end of June and both sides restated this on Thursday. The mandate says that Britain has left the bloc with the same rules as those obtaining in the EU, thereby providing a “strong basis” for concluding assessments on time. Britain says these should be “distinct” from talks on a free trade agreement. But a senior aide to Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief trade negotiator, said last week that completing assessments in June would not mean an actual decision on access. This would factor in progress on a wider UK-EU free trade agreement in obtaining access to UK sectors such as fisheries, the aide said. Barnier said on Wednesday that UK financial firms that want certainty in their relations with EU customers can set up subsidiaries in the bloc, which over 300 have done. For the others, there was the equivalence route. he said:

But these equivalences will never be global nor permanent. Nor will they be subject to joint management with the UK. They are, and will remain, unilateral decisions.

Bankers say the EU is likely to grant only temporary access while euro activities are relocated from London to the bloc. Worried that tensions between Britain and the EU will fragment markets, the European Banking Federation said on Wednesday that it would ask Brussels to depoliticise the equivalence system and make it more predictable.

Brexit talks will be tough and short, but deal possible – EU’s Barnier
Reuters, Feb 27 2020

WARSAW – Post-Brexit negotiations between Britain and the EU will be hard and short because of Britain’s self-imposed deadline, but a deal is possible if both sides stick to their political framework agreement, the bloc’s Brexit negotiator said on Thursday. Michel Barnier was speaking in Warsaw during a visit that is part of consultations with EU parliamentarians and stakeholders. Barnier told journalists in the parliament building in the Polish capital:

I think that an agreement is possible even in the very limited time available if we both remain true to the text that we negotiated which fixes the framework of future relations.

Britain unveiled a negotiating mandate on Thursday for talks with the European Union that put them on a collision, saying it was ready to walk away if “good progress” was not made by June. The two sides agreed their framework political declaration in October. It covers security and the economy, with the latter referring to a level playing field of standards and regulations to ensure fair competition in trade. London has since rejected this. The political declaration, which is not legally binding, sits alongside the legal divorce treaty that was also agreed in October. Barnier, who also met with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, said the EU would have to verify that the divorce agreement was correctly applied, in particular when it came to citizens’ rights.

Britain to withdraw from European Arrest Warrant
Reuters, Feb 27 2020

LONDON – Britain will not participate in a European scheme to fast-track the extradition of criminals following its departure from the European Union, the government said in its mandate for negotiations on a long term relationship with the bloc. The European Arrest Warrant was introduced in 2004 and replaced lengthy extradition processes between EU countries. It means a warrant issued by one EU country’s judicial authority to arrest a person and surrender them for prosecution is valid throughout the EU. The mandate published by the government on Thursday said:
The UK is not seeking to participate in the European Arrest Warrant as part of the future relationship. The agreement should instead provide for fast-track extradition arrangements.

The EU has previously warned that Brexit would mean it was unable to participate in the scheme, and Britain has itself already talked about alternative arrangements for extradition. Britain has used the European Arrest Warrant system thousands of times since its creation, including to bring back a man who tried to carry out an attack in London in 2005 and then fled to Italy.

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