Brexit negotiators say that Britain will make its own rules

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Brussels: Britain’s most important negotiator said Monday that after the Brexit, Britain would not accept EU supervision as part of a free trade agreement.

Senior diplomat David Frost told academics and diplomats in Brussels that London would not abide by EU rules for a “fair playing field”.

Instead, it will set its own standards for business and state aid, even if this means giving up privileged access to the EU internal market.

Frost said about Brexit: “This is not a simple negotiating position that can change under pressure, but the focus of the entire project.”

His speech at the Free University of Brussels came at a time when EU member states drew up mandates for their negotiator Michel Barnier.

Some capitals, especially France, are pushing for a post-Brexit deal in which the UK must sign EU legislation.

The neighboring countries of Great Britain want to continue to have access to British fishing waters and London has agreed not to damage EU workplaces and environmental standards.

But Frost outlined the position advocated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and said that London wanted to sign such an agreement with Brussels and Canada.

The CETA agreement eliminated substantial trade rates between the EU and Canada, but limited Canada’s compliance with EU law.

“We must have the ability to set laws that suit us — to claim the right that every other non-EU country in the world has,” Frost said.

“So to think that we might accept EU supervision on so-called level playing field issues simply fails to see the point of what we are doing.”

European tade experts also met on Monday and tweaked the negotiating mandate that Barnier hopes member state ambassadors will approve during the week.
In the latest version of the mandate seen by AFP, member states made clear that they wanted “sufficient guarantees for a level playing field.”

But Frost insisted Britain had no intention of being a low regulatory economy, and indeed might adopt more advanced rules than the EU.

These, however, would spring from British legislation, not the EU rule book.
“It’s perfectly possible to have high standards, and indeed similar or better standards to those prevailing in the EU,” Frost said.

One example, he said, was support for “crops that reflect our own climate rather than laws designed to reflect growing conditions in central France.”

“I struggle to see why this is so controversial,” he said, describing the idea that the EU rules in place should never change as “self-evidently absurd.”

“The British government is confident in the strategy we have chosen,” he said.

“We’re clear that we want that Canada free trade agreement type relationship that the EU has said so often is on offer, even if the EU seems to be expressing some douts about that unfortunately.

“Even if those doubts persist, we’re ready to trade on Australia-style terms, if we can’t agree a Canada-type FTA. We understand the trade-offs involved.”

Just as EU President Ursula von der Leyen Johnson recalled last week that he was “more ambitious”, Australia does not have an EU trade agreement.

She added, “But if this is the British choice, then we don’t doubt it.”

Frost said he will release a written document next week stating how Britain views the free trade agreement.

Many in Brussels wonder if it is possible to reach a free trade agreement within eight months, and most agreements have lasted for years.

But Frost said that Britain would not request an extension after December 31.

“At that point we recover our political and economic independence in full. Why would we want to postpone it?” he asked.

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