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Post-Brexit Agreement. EU and UK on the path of disagreement

The two parties are expected to begin negotiating the terms of their future post-Brexit relations next month.. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ruled out the possibility of this transition period extending beyond December 31, 2020.

Disagreements have already started to surface.

The UK’s main negotiator, David Frost, spoke in Brussels Monday, and called for a “Free Trade Agreement-like relationship with Canada”. The idea had already been made explicit by Johnson, in his first speech after his electoral victory on December 12, 2019.

The European response, this Tuesday, was not favorable.

“We remain ready to offer the UK an ambitious partnership,” said Michel Barnier in Brussels.

The European Union is also “ready to work very quickly with the United Kingdom”, on the basis of the pre-Brexit agreement established with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he added. “We are still ready to propose this partnership if the United Kingdom wants it”, underlined the Frenchman, detailing the terms admitted by Brussels.

“A trade agreement that focuses particularly on fisheries under fair conditions, with a country that has a very specific proximity – territorial and economic proximity – which makes it impossible to compare with Canada or South Korea or Japan, “specified Barnier.The Agreement with Canada partially entered into force in 2017, but has not yet been ratified by all EU member states.

According to a draft of the agreement being worked on in Brussels – and to which the Reuters agency had access -, the terms to be presented to London are anything but friendly.

They cover a wide range of requirements to negotiate, from demands for fair competition guarantees that “survive the time”, to the possible return of stolen European art pieces by London.

“The parties should address questions regarding the return or
restitution of cultural objects illegally removed from their home countries
says the document.

Although they are not mentioned, this requirement refers to the marbles of ancient Greece, brought to the United Kingdom in the 19th century and known since then as the Elgin Marbles, from the name of the Briton responsible for his presence in England. The pieces are on display at the British Museum in London.

Demanding partnership
This Wednesday, the ambassadors of the 27 are expected to meet in Brussels to discuss the general terms to be negotiated, before they receive the seal of approval at a ministerial meeting later this month.

Fair forecasts have been reinforced in recent weeks, says Reuters.

The envisaged partnership should include an ambitious, broad and balanced economic collaboration, provided that there are sufficient guarantees of a level playing field “, says the draft last.

The 27 require similar clauses for international shipping and other areas. They also underlined firmly that they will decide on their own any equitable issues that might authorize British access to the financial services provided by the European single market.
Quality immigration
London has meanwhile announced new immigration rules, which could have an impact on European citizens, which until now have enjoyed practically free access to the labor market.

The Minister of the Interior, Priti Patel, wrote in the newspaper The Sun that “our new immigration system will close the door on cheap, unskilled foreign labor,” he promised.

“Starting next year, all skilled workers will have to receive enough points to work in the UK“, he clarified.

“They will have to speak English, have a firm job offer and meet salary requirements”, added Patel, predicting that the plan will lead to a reduction “in numbers in general”.

Under the new rules, European citizens who are candidates to fill sectors with a shortage of British workers – case of the National Health Service – would get extra points, in order to be able to fill the necessary quotas, explained the Government of Boris Johnson, in the face of several criticisms.
The CETA rules

CETA – corresponding to its acronym in English, Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement – took seven years to negotiate.

Establishes, among other standards, the end of tariffs between Canada and European countries on most goods, while maintaining some customs and tax controls. Poultry, meat and eggs remain taxed.

The agreement obliges Canada, for example, not to purchase any products that use their own product nomenclatures from European demarcated areas, like cheese camembert or Parma ham.

AND, despite increasing acquisition quotas – European cheese exports to Canada increased from 18,500 tonnes a year to 31,972 tonnes – CETA has not abolished them.

CETA does not cover trade in services – although there is mutual recognition of qualifications, which facilitates the movement of professionals between both labor markets.

Canadian companies can also apply for large-scale European projects and there is an agreement for cooperation in terms of construction and production standards, avoiding double quality checks.
What does London want?

Canada has also adopted some of the EU’s rules on copyright and patents. On the other hand, CETA practically does not interfere in the exchange of financial services – a particularly important sector for the UK economy.

London would mainly serve a “zero quotas, zero tariffs” agreement with the European Union. The proximity, however, makes the volume of exchanges between them much higher than that of Canada with the EU.

In 2018, the United Kingdom exported almost 350 billion euros in goods and services to other member countries, equivalent to 45 percent of all the country’s exports. It imported 429 billion euros in goods and services from the EU, corresponding to 53 percent of all its imports.

Canada, in turn, exported 32 billion pounds in goods and services to the EU in 2017, or 7.9 percent of its exports, and imported 44 billion euros in goods and services from the European bloc, which constituted 10.5 euros. percent of its imports.

Another hypothesis put forward by the United Kingdom is an agreement along similar lines to those governing trade between the European Union and Australia.

As there is no specific agreement for the time being, the rules applied are those of the World Trade Organization, which is to say that London is ready to definitively leave the European bloc without any fixed agreement.

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