The European Union’s Brexit mediator has said there has been no adjustment in the British situation on the future relationship arrangements following his casual gathering with the UK’s central arbitrator David Frost in London this week.
The remarks were made by Mr. Barnier in a wide-range but casual calculation of conferences during a virtual meeting with the institute for international and Economic Affairs.
Mr Barnier suspect the UK of showing no willingness to compromise on the fisheries question, and said London had been very hesitant to explore a clash resolving mechanism that both sides could adhere to in the future.
He said that overall, the UK wanted a clean break from the EU but still wanted to access key parts of the EU single market without meeting its obligations.
Any unfair advantage for the UK could affect tens of thousands of EU jobs, he said, including jobs in Ireland.
“Of course, Ireland’s particularly close relationship with the UK makes these questions even more important, especially for businesses exporting to Great Britain or competing with British companies,” he told the IIEA.
“Any trade and economic partnership between economies as close and interconnected as ours must include robust and credible mechanisms to avoid trade distortions and unfair competitive advantages,” he stated.
“This is particularly important in the area of state aid, where the potential to distort competition using subsidies is significant,” he added.
“A level playing field that ensures common high standards in areas such as labour rights and the environment and with effective domestic enforcement and dispute settlement mechanisms, is the only way to start a new relationship between the EU and the UK on a firm and sustainable footing,” Mr Barnier said.
The EU was prepared to compromise on the fisheries, but the UK was unwilling to move on its opening position.
“Yet the UK government’s position would lock out Ireland’s fishermen and women from waters they fished in long before Ireland or the UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973,” he said.
“We fully understand and respect that the UK will become an independent coastal state, outside the Common Fisheries Policy. But we will not accept that the work and the livelihoods of these men and women be used as a bargaining chip in these negotiations,” he stated.
He said that without a long-term, reasonable and sustainable solution on fisheries, there will simply be no new economic partnership with the UK.
“In this context, I will miss Phil Hogan, on whom I could always count to relay any Irish concerns to me very directly over the last four years,” he added.
He said that he would like to take this opportunity to thank him warmly for all the work he has done for Europe as Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, and, more recently, as Commissioner for Trade.
Mr Barnier was convinced about a deal that the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson desired, but the EU would not agree to a clearance that destabilized the single market for the sole benefit of the UK.
However, he pointed out the concerns over the willingness of UK ports and that shipping operators, hauliers and exporters would have to adjust to a new situation.
He warned that the full enactment of the Protocol was necessary to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland and to ensure the continuation of the all-Ireland economy.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently said that UK and EUs representatives had a useful review of the schedule for Brexit talks at a meeting this week.
At the same time, he shared the concerns regarding some major difficulties to overcome in order to make progress.
The spokesman said that they had a useful review of the whole agenda for our talks, but major difficulties remains untouched.
“The EU’s insistence on progress on state aid and fisheries is an obstacle to making progress overall but we remain in close contact with the EU side and we’ll look forward to the next round of talks next week in London,” he added.