Michel Barnier, the EU Chief Negotiator, has stated his ‘strong opposition’ to central aspects of the UK Government’s ‘Chequers’ negotiating position. Although Barnier has been critical of aspects of the UK’s position in the past, his statements represent a much more combative style of diplomacy, all but rejecting the entirety of the UK’s proposals outright.
In an interview with the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Barnier said Mrs May’s plans ‘would be the end of the single market and the European project’ and that the central proposition of the Chequers plan, a common rulebook for goods but not services, would be not in the EU’s interests.
By coming out so unambiguously against key UK positions, Michel Barnier has made it unlikely that anything similar to the UK’s proposals will be accepted by the EU, as to do so would be to accept, by their own admission, a deal that represents an existential threat to the EU. In his comments, Barnier remarked that it would be ‘much easier’ if the UK stayed in the single market, with a relationship with the EU akin to Norway’s, suggesting that this would be the EU’s preferred outcome.
As the Government has repeatedly ruled out single market membership and continued freedom of movement, Barnier’s comments have raised the chance of a ‘No Deal’ scenario, which would cause disruption in the short to medium term, particularly for the Life Sciences sector. To read MAP’s guidance on Brexit, including information and advice on how to prepare for ‘No Deal’, click here: