The European Union want to agree common social and environmental standards in any free trade agreement with the UK to avoid a “race to the bottom”, Michel Barnier has said.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator wrote an opinion piece on Project Syndicate published on Friday, which said the EU wanted to make the most of the short time available.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that there would be no alignment with EU rules in a trade deal that he wants to agree with the bloc next year.
“Like the UK, we will keep our strategic interests in mind,” Barnier said. “We know that competing on social and environmental standards – rather than on skills, innovation, and quality – leads only to a race to the bottom that puts workers, consumers, and the planet on the losing side.”
It would mean any free trade agreement with the UK would have to ensure a level playing field on standards, state aid and tax.
Barnier also said that any agreement made by the end of 2020 – the deadline for which Johnson is hoping to set for the transition period – would likely need expanding in subsequent years.