Brussel’s chief Negotiator “strongly” opposes key parts of PM May’s proposals for a future trade deal.
London is due to leave the EU by March 2019, and will lose access to the common market if a trade deal isn’t agreed by then.
It was on June 23rd, 2016 that Britain narrowly voted to leave the European Union, stunning Europe and the world in general. The EU employs a set of policies for its 28-member states that aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods and trade among other services.
Britain is deeply intertwined with the workings of the EU especially with regard to trade. Leaders of member nations have expressed their dismay over Britain leaving the body over the past year. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte are among those who have been vocal about their apprehension regarding the unfolding events.
In December 2017, UK Prime Minister Theresa May struck a last-minute deal with the EU regarding key issues. According to this deal, there will be no "hard border" in Ireland. The rights of EU citizens in the UK and the rights of UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU would also be protected in accordance to the deal.
Prime minister Theresa May said she would not compromise on the UK government's Chequers plan. Mr. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said plans for a "common rulebook" for goods but not services were not in the EU's interests. While he has previously expressed criticism about Mrs. May's Chequers plan, Mr. Barnier has not been this explicit before.
In response, the UK government insisted its plans were "precise and pragmatic" and would work for the UK and the EU. The negotiations between the UK and the EU have an informal October deadline, but Mr. Barnier said this could be extended to mid-November. His comments were published on the same day Mrs. May wrote in the Sunday Telegraph that she was "confident" a "good deal" could be reached. However, PM May said it was right for the government to prepare for a no-deal scenario - even though this would create "real challenges for both the UK and the EU" in some sectors.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned a no-deal Brexit would be a "big mistake for Europe", although Britain "would survive and prosper". Various business groups have warned about the possible impact on the UK of no-deal Brexit.
The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March but has yet to agree how its final relationship with the bloc will work.
Responding to Michel Barnier's remarks, a UK government spokeswoman said: "We are confident that we have put forward a proposal that is precise, pragmatic and that will work for the UK and the EU.
PM May’s proposal achieves a new balance of rights and obligations that fulfils the London’s joint ambition to establish a deep and special partnership once the UK has left the EU, while preserving the constitutional integrity of the UK. Presently, there is no other proposal that achieves the two proposed goals of PM May’s plan.
"Our negotiating teams have upped the intensity, and we continue to move at pace to reach - as Mr. Barnier says - an ambitious partnership, which will work in the mutual interests of citizens and businesses in the UK and in the EU” added the spokeswoman.
The Chequers plan which was agreed at the prime minister's country residence in July, led to the resignations of Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
Our assessment is that as Britain was able to secure a deal regarding key issues in December 2017, the possibility of a no-deal Brexit seems unlikely in the present scenario. However, the directionless negotiations between the government and the lackluster leadership from the Prime Minister are leaving a cloud of doubt on any potential Brexit deal. UK companies and the government must prepare for the reality that post-Brexit, the private sector will not be able to access the same amount of privileges in Europe that it enjoys presently.