EU Diplomats were told the UK will be expected to sign up to a deal that will see restrict Boris Johnson’s ability to diverge from the bloc’s standards and regulations. The Prime Minister will be told that he must agree to the “non-lowering of higher domestic labour and environmental standards in order to encourage trade and investment”. EU negotiators will also insist that the UK signs up to the bloc’s state aid rules with an “independent enforcement authority in the UK” working in “close cooperation with the European Commission”.
Details of the draconian demands emerged after a meeting of diplomats and officials to prepare for post-Brexit trade talks.
According to a negotiating document, eurocrats will expect the UK to commitments to Brussels’ rules will continue to evolve over time.
The bloc wants the joint committee, made up of UK and EU officials, to set “higher standards or include additional areas” in the future.
Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission’s president, yesterday told MEPs striking a deal with Boris Johnson would be highly difficult.
She said: “We have to make enormous progress – this is decisive – until the summer and here we have to decide on, or it’s the UK’s choice to decide on, how close or how distant they want to be from the EU.
“But that also means from the single market in other terms. You cannot have no free movement for people and then expect to have free movement for goods, capitals and services.
“You cannot expect to have a level playing field if there’s a huge divergence in taxation or social standards or environmental standards.
“So it’s the choice of the UK how far they want to align or diverge. But this is decisive for how good the access to the single market will be or not, in short. It’s the old proverb, ‘You cannot have the cake and eat it at the same time’.”
Details of the bloc’s plan to demand to maintain access to the UK’s fishing waters for EU vessels also emerged as part of the meetings in the Belgian capital.
EU officials are primed to insist on a “direct link” between fisheries and the free trade of goods when negotiations begin after January 31.
Mr Johnson will be warned that even the most basic trade agreement must allow EU vessels access to UK waters.
Brussels is preparing to double down on its position after the Prime Minister pledged to regain control of the UK’s fishing waters during a meeting with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.
After last week’s meeting, a Downing Street spokesman said: “He said the UK would also maintain control of UK fishing waters.”
“Continued reciprocal access” for European trawlermen in UK waters is listed as one of the bloc’s “reaching objectives”, the behind-closed-doors meeting was told.
A negotiating document, published after the meeting, said the “unprecedented scale and scope requires a stable framework for cooperation and clearly defined shared principles and objectives for fisheries management”.
The bloc wants to prioritise the socio-economic repercussions to coastal communities as part of the pact.
EU officials describe this as a “standard clause that protects the livelihood of fishermen” and is included in most of the bloc’s trade agreements.
Fisheries is widely expected to be a key political battleground when negotiations officially begin after Brexit.
The fresh move to include a direct link between fisheries and trade in goods is seen as the bloc hardening on the stance agreed in the political declaration on the future agreement.
It will mount pressure on the Prime Minister to capitulate in the hunt to agree a trade deal with Brussels before the end of the year.