The UK government has threatened to end negotiations on future relations with the EU if no agreement is reached by June. This emerges from the British negotiating mandate, which was published on Thursday. The 27 EU countries had decided on their mandate for the upcoming trade talks on Tuesday. Negotiations are expected to begin in Brussels on Monday. If they fail, London wants to prepare fully for leaving without a follow-up agreement.
London and Brussels only have time until the end of December to agree on a free trade agreement and cooperation in other areas. Then the Brexit transition phase ends. Great Britain had left the international community on January 31, but is still subject to EU rules until the end of the year.
As expected, London takes a tough position in the negotiating mandate. British law should not be brought into line with EU rules, it says. The European Court of Justice should also not be allowed to exercise any jurisdiction in Great Britain. In its negotiating mandate for the free trade agreement without tariffs, the EU had asked for guarantees to exclude social, environmental and tax dumping, among other things.
"All we want is mutual recognition of our high standards and mutual access to our markets," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told journalists shortly before the paper was released on Thursday.
Own regulations for fishing
In addition to a free trade agreement, the British want to clarify regulations for fishing, aviation, migration and law enforcement separately. Brussels, on the other hand, is aiming for a comprehensive agreement that will, if possible, bring all of these areas under one roof. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned when presenting his mandate that Brussels would "not conclude the contract at any price".
Fishing is particularly controversial. Brussels wants to keep the current arrangements where possible, according to which EU fishing boats have access to the particularly rich British fishing waters. London rejects that. Instead, the British want to determine annually what access they have to their waters. According to the will of London, this regulation should not be linked to access to the European market. Most of the British fish is exported to the EU.
Minister of State Michael Gove also stressed when presenting the negotiating mandate in the British Parliament that there would be no border in the Irish Sea. He fueled speculation that London could withdraw its concessions from the Brexit agreement, according to which goods controls between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK are to take place in the future in order to keep the border with the EU member state Republic of Ireland open.
The European Union's 46-page negotiating mandate emphasizes the importance of fair competition, the rules of which must be based on robust commitments. The intended agreement should maintain common high standards. For state aid, competition, state companies, labor and social standards, environmental standards, climate change, relevant tax issues and other interventions in these areas, there should continue to be similarly high standards with EU standards as a reference.