BRUSSELS – Michel Barnier has given ‘a stark warning’ that the U.K won’t benefit from “frictionless trade” with the bloc after Brexit, said The Wall Street Journal.
In an ‘unusually blunt and detailed public discussion,’ the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator told trade unions and businesses that he wasn’t sure the EU position was “fully understood across the channel.”
“I have heard some people in the U.K argue that one can leave the single market and build a customs union to achieve ‘frictionless trade,”’ he said.
‘That is not possible.’
His comments come after a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday (07/07) that the U.K government is seeking a free trade and customs deal that allows “for trade that is as frictionless as possible.”
“I have to work with the U.K government as it is today and based on what it is telling me,” said Mr Barnier.
In the first round of talks in June, Brexit Secretary David Davis confirmed to Mr Barnier that the U.K wants to leave the single market and the customs union.
‘Divisions within the U.K government have emerged in recent weeks on this issue,’ and Mr Barnier has said the EU are preparing “for all situations,” in case the British position changes.
He also announced that the EU would not be preserving its special ‘passporting’ arrangement with the British financial sector whereby U.K-based banks can operate in other EU countries.
Mr Barnier also made it clear that Mrs May’s idea that “no deal would be better than a bad deal” would be disastrous.
Without a Brexit deal, he explained, trade between the EU and the U.K would be dictated by World Trade Organisation rules.
“In practice, ‘no deal’ would worsen the ‘lose-lose’ situation which is bound to result from Brexit,” he said.
“And the U.K would have much more to lose than its partners.”