LONDON — The EU and the U.K. on Monday set out their priorities for the post-Brexit future relationship talks — buckle up for a bumpy ride.
The EU is willing to negotiate a highly ambitious trade deal, the bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said in Brussels, but “this exceptional offer is conditional.” Those conditions are not to the liking of Boris Johnson though, who used a speech in London to set out his own Brexit negotiating stance.
Here are five potential clashes in the upcoming talks.
1. Playing by the rules
The central area of dispute is around so-called level playing field rules. The EU is worried the U.K. might lower labor and environmental standards and boost state aid to its companies, effectively becoming a competitor with an unfair advantage.
Barnier said it is up to the U.K. to answer the “fundamental” question of the future relationship: “Will it continue to adhere to the EU’s social and regulatory model?” According to Barnier, the U.K.’s answer “will be fundamental to the level of ambition of our future relationship.”
“The Government will not agree to measures in these areas which go beyond those typically included in a comprehensive free-trade agreement.” — Boris Johnson
But Johnson said in his speech on Monday that “there is no need for a free-trade agreement to involve accepting EU rules on competition policy, subsidies, social protection, the environment, or anything similar, any more than the EU should be obliged to accept U.K. rules.”
He said the U.K. would maintain or even improve upon EU standards, but insisted that signing up to a treaty that mandated such alignment or copying EU laws was not an option.