EU lawmaker: Brexit trade deal ‘difficult’ if Britain shuns EU rules

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Guy Verhofstadt
Guy Verhofstadt

EUROPEAN Union (EU) lawmaker Guy Verhofstadt on Friday warned that negotiating an agreement on Britain’s post-Brexit trade relationship with Brussels will be “very difficult” if London refuses to accept EU rules and standards.

Britain is due to leave the EU formally on Jan. 31 and will then negotiate its future relationship with the block.

“I think both sides have the interest to be very ambitious (in the negotiations).

“But how far this will go is very difficult to say today because it will depend on what the willingness is of the UK side to also comply with a number of standards in the European Union,” Verhofstadt told BBC Radio 4 following talks with British officials on Thursday.

Brussels is willing to accept Britain’s demands for no trade tariffs and no quotas after Brexit but London must also accept EU rules against dumping and state aid, Verhofstadt told the broadcaster.

“It will be very difficult to have a broad free trade agreement at that moment,” he added when asked what would happen if Britain rejects the EU rules and standards.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had promised to complete the negotiations by Dec. 31, ruling out any extension. EU officials have dismissed his timetable as unrealistic.

Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s main point man on Brexit, will hand the baton to German-Scottish EU lawmaker David McAllister of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, following a decision taken on Thursday.

McAllister will head a new parliamentary group overseeing Britain’s EU departure and negotiations on future relations. (dpa/NAN)

– Jan. 31, 2020 @ 9:45 GMT |

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