EUROPEAN UNION (OBSERVATORY) – The European Union’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said Wednesday that he had to face the United Kingdom until December 31, 2020 to change its position and remain in the European Union and the Customs Union.
“This allows them to negotiate a better relationship with the European Union after they leave the EU,” he said in an interview with the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.
London has repeatedly said it will leave the single market and customs union as it leaves the European Union.
But Barnier said in the interview that “if the British want to adjust their red lines, we will adjust our lines accordingly.”
“I do not hear this today, but everything is possible,” he said.
The United Kingdom will leave the European Union on 30 March 2019 “but will not emerge from the unified market and the customs union before 31 December 2020” the likely date of the end of the transition period of 21 months aimed at mitigating the negative effects of Brexit.
“As long as they have not come out yet and during the transitional period, everything will be possible,” Barnier said.
He explained that the model of the relationship between the Kingdom and the Union could be the model chosen by Norway.
The euro is open to the single European market but has no decision-making power. It must respect EU legislation on the single market and pay its financial contribution to its development and respect for the four freedoms (freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and individuals).
But Brits supporters in Britain reject this.
At the current stage of negotiations, “Given the British red lines, what will result is a free trade agreement similar to what we have reached with Canada, Korea and Japan,” according to the chief European negotiator.
Barnier added that despite the progress achieved and the initial agreement on the terms of separation, the ongoing negotiations on the exit of the kingdom did not end.
The two disputed points to be resolved before October 2018 are “the governance of the agreement, a practical solution to Ireland that protects the holy Friday agreements (which ended the violence in Northern Ireland) and respects the unity of the internal market.”
“What created the problem in Ireland is the UK’s decision to get out of the European Union, but also to get out of what is not compulsory to get out of it, ie, the single market and the customs union,” Barnier said.