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EU gives green light to Michel Barnier to negotiate future with London

2020-02-25T03:12:53.276Z

Representatives of EU member states met Monday 24 February to approve the mandate of their negotiator Michel Barnier to negotiate with London. This Tuesday in Brussels must be…



EU gives green light to Michel Barnier to negotiate future with London

Michel Barnier is about to lead difficult negotiations on the future commercial relationship with London. REUTERS / Francois Lenoir

Text by: RFI Follow

Representatives of EU member states met Monday 24 February to approve the mandate of their negotiator Michel Barnier to negotiate with London. This Tuesday in Brussels must be formally adopted the conditions for negotiations with the United Kingdom on their future trade relationship, paving the way for a new post-Brexit chapter which promises to be particularly delicate.

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The adoption of Michel Barnier's mandate at a ministerial meeting on Tuesday will pave the way for the first talks in early March between the European Union and the United Kingdom. London and Brussels have only a few months before the end of the year to agree on their future relationship. And Michel Barnier's mission already looks complicated.

Read also: The Drian plans tense post-Brexit negotiations

The first pitfall on which these negotiations are likely to fail concerns fishing. The Europeans' mandate insists that the future agreement must maintain reciprocal access to territorial waters. The United Kingdom, on the other hand, wants only the vessels to which it has granted a license to fish in its waters.

The showdown looks tense. European boats catch around six times more fish in British waters than British boats in European waters. At the same time, the British largely depend on the European market to sell the fruit of their fishing.

This sector represents just over 1% of European GDP. But it is highly symbolic: for the Brexiters, it is the embodiment of regained sovereignty. Discussions on this thorny subject will therefore make it possible to assess the capacity of Europeans and the British to find compromises.

Trade rules negotiations are also expected to be tough. The 27 want the EU Court of Justice to be the arbiter of disputes over European standards, something the UK doesn't want to hear about.

But it is especially access to the European market for British products that will be the biggest pitfall. The whole question is to what extent is the United Kingdom ready to align itself with EU rules to access the single market. Negotiations on financial services, on the other hand, will not take place, because this sector is immediately excluded by Europeans.

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  • European Union
  • UK
  • Brexit

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