Barnier: "What is at stake is the smooth organisation of our future relations, not sovereignty"

Highlights from the speech delivered by Michael Barnier in Brussels in the European Parliament on 21.10.2020 that are relevant for Customs & Global Trade

  1. The European Council reaffirmed to our British partners and friends that, as we have always said, the European Union wants an agreement.

  2. An agreement that is to the mutual benefit of each party, that respects the autonomy and sovereignty of each party and that reflects a balanced compromise.

  3. There will be no agreement at any price.

  4. What is at stake today in these negotiations is not the sovereignty of one side or the other. We have made it clear [...] that we will respect the decision-making autonomy of the European Union and the sovereignty of the United Kingdom. What is at stake is the smooth organisation of our future relations after the divorce, which is now an established fact.

  5. I believe that an agreement is within reach

  6. In other areas, although there is still disagreement, we are beginning to see possible solutions emerge: in particular as regards trade in goods and services.

Why the Canadian Model does not work

"The level playing field – those economic and commercial ‘fair play' rules that must be at the heart of our partnership. The British often refer in their speeches to the Canadian model. We are uniquely close to the United Kingdom geographically and have been building an economic interconnection with the British for 47 years. So this situation is not comparable with any other. Moreover, it is the first time in our 60-year history that we have negotiated a trade treaty with a third country that: is on a ‘zero tariffs, zero quotas' basis; has no precedent, whether with Canada or with Japan; and is being negotiated in a context of regulatory divergence, not convergence.


Level Playing Field

The need for a genuine level playing field remains a fundamental requirement of the Union, as stated at the European Council. In recent days we have observed with interest that the British are prepared to work on fundamental principles for a specific State aid control system in a future agreement, which would go beyond the system provided for in existing free trade agreements, and also on non-regression standards, with genuine guarantees of national implementation, and a dispute settlement mechanism. But these intentions have yet to be reflected in the negotiation. It is also necessary for each party to adopt unilateral measures in response to risks of distortion of competition.


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