The next battle of Brexit begins with future ties
BRUSSELS: The EU and Britain will set the stage for the next chapter of bruises on Monday, establishing their vision and red lines for a post-divorce future after the dramatic exit of the UK bloc.
After three years of divorce talks, the next phase promises to be equally bitter with a combative prime minister. Boris johnson insisting that his country has nothing to prove to the EU now that his 47-year membership in the block is about to end.
Conflicting views of relations between the EU and the United Kingdom should be developed at an unprecedented rate, as Johnson flatly refused to extend the negotiation period beyond the end of this year.
Until then, Britain agreed to comply with EU membership rules, but in case of not reaching an agreement, the two sides would fall into the most basic bones of relations, causing major shocks in the cross-channel economy.
The main negotiator in Europe, Michel Barnier, will propose his vision of a new basis for ties in Brussels, with the most pressing issue, while Johnson will present his case in a speech in London.
According to the Prime Minister's office, Johnson will launch against the EU, saying that Britain has no more reason to comply with EU standards on the environment or labor rights than the EU to comply with the British.
The United Kingdom will maintain the highest standards in these areas, better, in many ways, than those in the EU, without the obligation of a treaty and it is vital to emphasize this now, Johnson will say.
Brussels has repeatedly warned Britain that trade ties will depend on how closely London adheres to EU standards, which is known as maintaining equal conditions.
There will be two conditions that will be very clear in this trade agreement: we want an agreement on fishing, which will be difficult, on reciprocal access to waters and markets for British and French fishermen, Barnier told the French broadcaster LCI on Sunday.
And at the same time, in this trade agreement, we want an agreement on equal terms, he added.
But Johnson's government, ignoring the fears of big business, has promised to break the edicts of Brussels.
This would generate the independence promised by and leave the way open to Britain to seal ambitious trade agreements around the world, especially with the United States.
We are not going to align with EU rules, that is not on the negotiating table ... it is not even in the negotiating room, British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab told the BBC.
But we want to cooperate and we hope that the EU will fulfill its commitment to a Canadian-style free trade agreement, he previously told Sky News.
This refers to the EU trade agreement with Canada that Europeans consider acceptable to the United Kingdom in terms of tariffs and quotas, but too weak in provisions to guarantee fair trade.
The British media said that London was angry because the EU is bound by an arbitration process to ensure fair trade that went beyond similar clauses in trade agreements with other countries.
Britain is especially angry because the provision would involve the Court of Justice of the European Union, the highest court in the EU that became a meeting symbol of the EU's reach for pro Brexiteers.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar urged Britain not to repeat the mistakes of the past by insisting on rigid red lines that make it difficult to reach an agreement.
London should mitigate the type of nationalist rhetoric, he said.
Barnier's negotiating mandate will be discussed and approved by the 27 EU member states later this month, and direct business talks with London will begin in early March.
Access to fishing for European ships in British waters will be a key issue to be resolved, although both sides have promised to reach an agreement before July 1.
Fishermen from eight member states, particularly France and Denmark, rely heavily on British waters that account for 30 percent of the sales of French fishing equipment.