EU’s Barnier to Britain: No chance of friction-free trade after Brexit – MarketWatch
BRUSSELS—The European Union’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on Thursday gave a stark warning to officials in London that the U.K. won’t have “frictionless trade” with the bloc after it leaves.
In an unusually blunt and detailed public discussion with trade unions and business groups here, Barnier said that he isn’t sure that the EU position is “fully understood across the Channel.”
“I have heard some people in the U.K. argue that one can leave the single market and build a customs union to achieve ‘frictionless trade’—that is not possible,” Barnier said.
Prime Minister Theresa May and several of her top officials in recent weeks had called for a deal enabling such “frictionless trade” after Brexit.
Barnier said that his British counterpart, David Davis, confirmed during their first round of talks last month that the U.K. wants to leave both the single market and the customs union. “I have to work with the U.K. government as it is today and based on what it’s telling me,” he said. Divisions within the U.K. government have emerged in recent weeks on this issue, with Barnier saying that “we are prepared for all situations,” in case the British stance changes. A next round of talks is scheduled for July 17 in Brussels.
Barnier also made it clear that there will be no special deal for the British financial sector to keep its so-called passporting arrangement under which thousands of U.K.-based banks are operating in other EU countries.
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