UK Can’t ‘Pick the Raisins Out’ of EU Single Market, Barnier Says Striking May’s Brexit Plan
The EU’s chief negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier, has used very explicit language in striking down UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit blueprint, stating that he is “strongly opposed” to key parts of it.
Barnier’s explicit wording came late on Sunday, after earlier the British leader wrote an article in the Sunday Telegraph promising to make no compromises with her Brexit blueprint, the White Paper also kown as the Chequers plan, during Britain’s negotiations with the EU, and not to support another referendum on Brexit.
The EU’s chief negotiator has in essence dismissed May’s plan early on as contradicting the principles of the European single market.
This time, however, he declared his wording was substantially stronger as he argued that a potential acceptance of May’s plan would mean the end of the European Union.
“[If accepted, May’s plan] would be the end of the single market and the European project,” Barnier told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, as cited by BBC News.
“We have a coherent market for goods, services, capital and people – our own ecosystem that has grown over decades. You can not play with it by picking pieces,” he added.
Sources close to Barnier are quoted as saying he had never been so explicit before in his criticism of May’s Chequers plan.
“The British have a choice. They could stay in the single market, like Norway, which is also not a member of the EU – but they would then have to take over all the associated rules and contributions to European solidarity. It is your choice,” the EU Brexit negotiator stated.
“But if we let the British pick the raisins out of our rules, that would have serious consequences. Then all sorts of other third countries could insist that we offer them the same benefits,” he argued.
Barnier pointed out that another problem with May’s plan for a common EU – UK rulebook for goods but not for services was the fact that many goods now come with services attached.
“There are services in every product. In your mobile phone, for example, it is 20 to 40 percent of the total value,” he said.
Barnier’s comments were published on the same day as May’s article. The British government reacted later by defending the Chequers plan.
“We are confident that we have put forward a proposal that is precise, pragmatic and that will work for the UK and the EU,” a UK government spokeswoman said.
“This proposal achieves a new balance of rights and obligations that fulfils our joint ambition to establish a deep and special partnership once the UK has left the EU while preserving the constitutional integrity of the UK. There is no other proposal that does that,” she added.
(Banner image: UK government)