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Michel Barnier questions Theresa May’s Brexit White Paper

20 июля
15:22 2018
Michel BarnierImage copyright Reuters

Michel Barnier has said Theresa May's plan for a future trade relationship with the EU could weaken the single market and create burdens for business.

The EU Brexit negotiator said the White Paper opened "the way to a constructive discussion" but must be "workable".

He questioned whether plans for a common rulebook for goods and agri-foods were practical.

Earlier, Theresa May urged the EU to "evolve" its position on Brexit and not fall back on unworkable proposals.

  • May: EU must 'evolve' Brexit position
  • Brexit: All you need to know
  • What does UK White Paper reveal?

Mrs May is hoping the White Paper - which sparked two cabinet resignations - will allow the two sides to reach a deal on post-Brexit relations by the autumn, so the UK can avoid leaving the EU without a deal in March next year.

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Media captionTheresa May was speaking during a visit to Northern Ireland on Friday.

The White Paper proposes close ties in some areas, such as the trade in goods, but Mrs May says it will end free movement and the jurisdiction of the European Court, and allow the UK to strike trade deals with other nations.

Critics say it is an unworkable compromise which would leave the UK being governed by the EU in many areas, but with no say in its rules.

Mr Barnier did not reject the White Paper out of hand, saying "several elements" of it were "very useful".

But there were parts that Brussels did not understand which would need further clarification.

He said his main aim was to protect the integrity of the EU single market, and the UK proposals - which would see frictionless trade in goods but not services - risked undermining that.

"We are not going to negotiate on the basis of the White Paper because that's the British paper but we could use many elements of the White Paper," said Mr Barnier.

"There's not an awful lot of justification for the EU running the risk of weakening the single market.

"That is our main asset. There's no justification for us to create additional burdens on business just because the UK wants to leave."

Mr Barnier questioned the UK's plans for a "common rulebook" for EU-UK trade as it only referred to goods checked at the border, not areas like pesticide use, adding: "How can we protect consumers in Europe?"

He also questioned whether the plans were workable without additional bureaucracy and said there were "practical problems" about how tariffs would be determined and collected.

Under the UK's plan, EU member states would collect tariffs on the UK's behalf and vice versa.

Ireland's Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told reporters in Brussels: "There will be some things in the White Paper that will be welcomed and will be the basis of agreement and there will be other things in the White Paper that probably, when they are fully tested, might not be workable."

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