Michel Barnier to the United Kingdom: There is No Middle Way on Single Market or Customs Union


Michel Barnier, the chief negotiator of the European Union, has informed the United Kingdom that there is no compromise position on the customs union of the Single Market.

Barnier, who was talking in Italy prior to joining the newest round of formal negotiations in Brussels, said that the United Kingdom needed to be aware that any decision to withdraw from the European Union and the bloc’s existing structures would “have consequences.”

Barnier stated: “You cannot be half in the Single Market and half out.We can not want to put an end to the free movement of people while maintaining the free movement of goods, services or capital through a system of general equivalences. We can not want to leave the internal market and continue to enact the rules. We can not leave the customs union but want to benefit from a free trade with the European Union.”

The Eurocrat emphasised that there was “no reason” for the Single Market to be undermined by Brexit if its integrity was maintained in this manner.

Barnier continued: “This Single Market, which is our main economic asset, is a set of laws, rules, standards chosen in common – and the United Kingdom knows them well since, for 44 years, we have been deciding them together – and we respect them together, with common institutions and jurisdiction.”

Michael Barnier has previously suggested the Canadian trade agreement as a model for future trade with the European Union, even though Theresa May has previously rejected it. Instead, the British Prime Minister is expecting to secure a bespoke deal. However, that appears unlikely.

He also seised on comments that were made by Wilbur Ross, the US commerce secretary, on Monday, who informed the CBI conference that the United Kingdom should abandon EU “protectionism,” including high food standards and other regulations. Ross also urged a closer convergence with the United States.

However, Barnier said that the future UK-EU would be “more a matter of controlling regulatory divergences than of encouraging convergence.”

Barnier said: “The United Kingdom has chosen to leave the European Union. Will she also want to move away from the European model? That’s another question… Of course, the UK stays in Europe. But it is up to the British to tell us whether they still adhere to the European model. Their answer is important because it directs the discussion on our future partnership and the conditions of its ratification.”