Michel Barnier: UK cannot have Canada-style trade deal with EU

18 February 2020, 21:13

Michel Barnier
Michel Barnier. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Michel Barnier has told reporters at the EU parliament that the UK cannot have the same trade deal with the EU as Canada ahead of negotiations between the two sides next month.

The EU's chief negotiator said that although the EU was willing to offer an "ambitious partnership", the UK's "proximity" meant that post-Brexit trade deals would need to be different.

Speaking outside the European parliament, Mr Barnier said: "We remain ready to offer the UK an ambitious partnership.

"A trade agreement that includes in particular fishing and includes a level playing field, with a country that has a very particular proximity, a unique territorial and economic closeness, which is why it can't be compared to Canada or South Korea or Japan.

"We remain ready to propose this partnership if the UK wants it."

His comments come as the two sides prepare for negotiations to start next month ahead of the December 31st transition period deadline.

On Monday, the UK's chief negotiator David Frost made a speech in Brussels calling for a Canada-style deal.

His speech came after France warned that Britain and the EU would "rip each other apart" during post-Brexit trade talks.

David Frost
David Frost. Picture: Getty

David Frost told students and academics at the Universite libre de Bruxelles: "We bring to the negotiations not some clever tactical positioning but the fundamentals of what it means to be an independent country.

"It is central to our vision that we must have the ability to set laws that suit us - to claim the right that every other non-EU country in the world has.

"So, to think that we might accept EU supervision on so called level playing field issues simply fails to see the point of what we are doing.

"It isn't a simple negotiating position which might move under pressure - it is the point of the whole project."

Mr Frost said that the UK is seeking an "open and fair" arrangement with the EU based on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) precedents.

In his first speech on the trade deal, Boris Johnson also confirmed that he wanted to pursue a trade deal similar to that of Canada.