Mon. Nov 28th, 2022


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Be thankful we’re not in charge! France says Barnier has already compromised too much

4 min read

Brexit: French MEP says there needs to be a ‘level playing field’

British and EU negotiators will resume talks in Brussels today in a “final throw of the dice” as they try to secure a post-Brexit trade deal. With time rapidly running out before the Brexit transition period concludes at the end of the month, Lord Frost and Michel Barnier will meet in a last-ditch attempt to resolve the remaining issues. But French MEP Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield warned the European Parliament, which will need to ratify the deal at the end of the talks, will not accept a compromise on the level playing field. 

She told Channel 4 News: “Whatever happens, and this is without talking about Macron or any others, it’s not going to be sudden.

“I think we will have again a mysterious period where we will go to a provisional situation again to get the best deal at the end.

“We have not lost hope to have a deal but level playing field is important for all of the citizens and all of the European Union and all institutions.

“This is really the itchy point and I don’t think on this we will come back on compromises because the level playing field is the fair way to work all together.”

Confronted by the host on the fact the level playing field was “bound” to be rejected by the UK from the start of the negotiations, the French MEP said: “I don’t know if it’s bound, it’s bound in this current situation with this current government and this current mindset.

“Honestly, I don’t think you could ever say that the European Union has been excessive or exaggerating in its demands.

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“And I think the person of the chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, represents pretty well a logical, sensible person.

“Probably if you had left the deal to some of us, we would maybe not even go that far into compromise.

“So I think on the European level compromise has already been made, to be honest.”

The return to the negotiating table follows an hour-long call on Saturday between Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, in which they agreed on a final push to get an agreement.

Ahead of the meeting, however, British sources warned there was no guarantee they would succeed.

“This is the final throw of the dice,” said one UK source close to the negotiations.

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“There is a fair deal to be done that works for both sides, but this will only happen if the EU is willing to respect the fundamental principles of sovereignty and control.”

In a joint statement following their call, Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen acknowledged “significant differences” remained on the key issues of fishing rights, competition rules and the governance arrangements for any deal.

“Both sides underlined that no agreement is feasible if these issues are not resolved,” they said.

“Whilst recognising the seriousness of these differences, we agreed that a further effort should be undertaken by our negotiating teams to assess whether they can be resolved.

“We are therefore instructing our chief negotiators to reconvene tomorrow in Brussels. We will speak again on Monday evening.”

The call took place after Mr Barnier and Lord Frost announced on Friday that they were putting the talks on “pause” after the latest round of negotiations failed to achieve breakthrough.

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Lord Frost is now travelling back to Brussels with a small team of negotiators to attempt to work through the remaining issues.

While in the past much of the focus has been on the differences over fisheries, British sources indicated they would be looking particularly at the so-called “level playing field” rules on issues like state aid for business.

Theresa May’s former chief of staff Lord Gavin Barwell said he believes a deal on a post-Brexit trade agreement is “definitely still possible”, although it will rely on whether or not both sides are “prepared to make the compromises necessary”.

Lord Barwell told BBC Breakfast: “Both sides are going to have to compromise if we’re going to get a deal from this situation.”

Lord Barwell said: “We are now 25 days from the end of the transition period and business, both in the UK and in Europe, have no idea on what terms they’re going to be able to trade with their nearest market from January 1.

“That is a pretty shocking failure.”

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