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UK on collision course with EU over trade talks mandate

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on February 27, 2020 - Duration: 01:54s

UK on collision course with EU over trade talks mandate

The UK government has unveiled a tough negotiating mandate for trade talks with the European Union, saying it will walk away with no deal at the end of the transition period In December if "good progress" is not made by June.

Joe Davies reports.

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UK on collision course with EU over trade talks mandate

The UK government has unveiled a tough negotiating mandate for trade talks with the European Union.

It said on Thursday (February 27) that it's ready to walk away with no deal at the end of the current transition period in December if "good progress" was not made by June.

At the heart of the conflict is Britain's demand for a trade deal along the lines of one between the EU and Canada.

The EU has ruled that out saying Britain, being a neighbor of the bloc, is a greater threat to the bloc's market as it does more business than Canada.

It fears Britain could undercut its market by lowering standards.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING: "This this is a great country with the highest possible standards for the environment, for animal welfare, for social protection, for workers rights.

Of course, we're not going to engage in some race to the bottom.

We're going to maintain the very highest standards, all we want is mutual recognition of each other's high standards and access to each other's markets.

I mean, we wouldn't ask the EU to follow every particular, every change in the UK legislation, so it doesn't make any sense for them to make the same requirement of us.

And that's that's where we are." Senior cabinet minister Michael Gove said the UK deserves to be treated in the same way as other countries negotiating a trade deal with the EU.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH CABINET OFFICER MINISTER, MICHAEL GOVE, SAYING: "The UK government seeks an FTA (free trade agreement) with robust protections for the environment and labor standards.

But we do not see why the test of suitability in these areas should be adherence to EU law and submission to EU models of governance.

The EU does not apply these principles to free trade agreements with other sovereign nations, and they should not apply to a sovereign United Kingdom." Britain may have technically already left the EU, but it now has just 10 months to negotiate a trade deal and agreements on everything from fishing to transport, to replace more than 40 years of closely aligned political and economic relations.

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