EU won’t accept UK Brexit ‘cherry-picking’, France’s European minister warns
Britain is seeking an Australia or Canada-style deal with the bloc
France’s minister for Europe on Friday warned that the EU would not accept “cherry-picking” when it came to negotiating a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain, only a day after the UK threatened to walk away from talks with the EU in June if there was no ‘broad outline’ of a deal.
“Brexit has consequences; there is no such thing as Brexit only in name,” Amélie de Montchalin told an audience at London’s Chatham House think tank on Friday.
She added that the EU decides how it wants to trade with countries outside the bloc and dismissed the idea that London could take a unilateral approach. The talks for Britain to secure a trade deal with the EU before the end of the transition period at the end of this year began on Monday. The British government has said it wants an Australia or Canada-style trade deal on fishing rights, judicial cooperation and other areas including energy, aviation and civil nuclear cooperation.
Canada negotiated with the EU for seven years before signing a trade deal in October 2016. It took almost another year before it was provisionally applied. The agreement keeps tariffs to a minimum.
An Australian-style deal would be similar to a no-deal Brexit, with trade on basic World Trade Organisation terms.
But the terminology has confused officials in Brussels, as Australia is still negotiating a trade deal with the EU, after it began talks in 2018.
"You are not Canada, you are certainly not Australia - first of all because we can come to you by train, you are the United Kingdom,” Ms de Montchalin said, adding that an Australian trade deal with the EU does not exist.
She warned EU wouldn’t accept any “cherry-picking”, but said the bloc’s aim wasn’t to “punish or take any revenge on the UK”.
But she warned that EU ministers wouldn’t agree to a trade deal that doesn’t work for the bloc because of the “artificial deadline” of the January 1, 2021.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly insisted that he will not seek to extend the deadline.
Updated: February 28, 2020 04:05 PM