Post-Brexit UK Can’t Be in European Single Market in Any Way, Juncker States Dealing Blow to May’s Plan

Post-Brexit UK Can’t Be in European Single Market in Any Way, Juncker States Dealing Blow to May’s Plan

The UK cannot be a part of the EU’s single market after Brexit, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has declared in his last State of the Union address.

In his speech at the European Parliament, in which he also revealed a number of new security and migration measures, Juncker in essence dealt a blow to British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit blueprint, known as the Chequers plan, which is deemed controversial both at home and abroad.

The May’s Brexit plan stipulates a common rule book with the EU for trade in goods, while excluding the UK’s powerful services sector – a decoupling that was dismissed by the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier early on.

As UK leader May recently promised to make no compromises with her blueprint for Brexit, Barnier reiterated that the UK could not be allowed to “pick the raisins out”of the European single market.

The President of the European Commission, the EU executive, has now made the same point, namely, that the UK cannot remain fully or partly in the European single market after Brexit – but in a stronger wording.

“We also ask the British government to understand that someone who leaves the Union cannot be in the same privileged position as a Member State,” Juncker declared in his last State of the Union address.

“If you leave the Union, you are of course no longer part of our single market, and certainly not only in the parts of it you choose,” the EC chief said, a statement met with ovations on part of the MEPs.

Juncker did not delve into any details of the Brexit talks saying those were up to Michel Barnier as far as the EU is concerned, while also saying he respected Britain’s decision to quit the Union.

The EC head did, however, express solidarity with Ireland over the issue of its border with Northern Ireland, i.e. the UK, and reiterated the EU’s desire to prevent a hard border through a backstop deal. He also vowed the EU would protect the Good Friday Agreement.

Juncker also sounded somewhat reassuring as he made it clear that after Brexit materializes on March 29, 2019, the UK would not be just an ordinary “third country” to the EU but a close neighbor in terms of economic and security relations.

While his statement that Britain could not remain part of the European single market after Brexit seemed to negate May’s Chequers plan, the EC President said he agreed with the British Prime Minister’s state goal of creating a special EU – UK partnership once the latter leaves the former.

With respect to the possibility of the two parties striking the elusive Brexit deal on time, i.e. by October or November at the latest, Juncker vowed that the Commission’s negotiators stood ready to work day and night to reach a deal.

(Banner image: Jean-Claude Juncker on Twitter)

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