EU approves the mandate for Brexit trade talks

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The Council of the European Union (EU) has authorized trade talks and has adopted the bloc’s negotiating position on the future EU partnership with the United Kingdom.

“The EU is now ready to start talks,” said Andreja Metelko-Zgombic, Croatia’s secretary of state for European affairs, who spoke on behalf of her government that holds the rotating Council presidency in the first six months of the year.

She called the mandate “clear and powerful”, confirming “the EU’s willingness to provide an ambitious, broad and balanced partnership for the United Kingdom for the benefit of both parties”.

The United Kingdom left the EU on 31 January, ending its 47-year EU membership. In the next 10 months of the transition period, the United Kingdom and the EU must agree on the terms of economic cooperation.

European ministers have approved minor changes to the draft mandate presented earlier this month by EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

The negotiating position encompasses three main chapters: economic partnership, security and foreign policy co-operation and an institutional framework that regulates future relations.

The key part is the economic chapter as the EU and the United Kingdom have very different opinions on the future of trade relations.

The EU is open to a free trade agreement that allows zero taxes and quotas on the import of British goods. But in return the bloc insists on providing an “equal playing field for open and fair competition”.

In reality, this implies that the EU will urge the United Kingdom to uphold high standards in social affairs, environmental protection and state aid regulation, which British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to avoid after Brexit.

The EU also insists on fisheries agreements, which provide for mutual access to the market and water, and includes quota fishing capital for sustainability.

The United Kingdom is expected to unveil its negotiating position on Thursday.


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