Theresa May’s post-Brexit free trade plans shot down by EU adviser

Written by Liz Bates on 6 March 2018 in News

Theresa May’s ambition to secure free trade with the EU after Brexit by matching its standards was dismissed by a top EU official

Brexit: Picture credit - PA

Theresa May’s ambition to secure free trade with the EU after Brexit by matching its standards was dismissed by a top EU official last night.

Stefaan de Rynck, the main adviser to the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said that mutual recognition of standards – a central aspect of the Prime Minister’s plans for a post-Brexit trade deal – is no longer a key part of the bloc’s trading arrangements.

Speaking at LSE last night, he said: “The EU has moved away in the wake of the financial crisis from mutual recognition of national standards to a centralised approach with a single EU rule book and common enforcement structures and single supervisory structures.”

The Brexit adviser added that the European Court of Justice could intervene at any point to prevent mutual recognition of standards undermining the single market’s integrity.

The claim will come as a blow to Theresa May who insisted in her speech on Friday that Britain’s future trading relationship with the EU could be based on mutual recognition of standards overseen by a third party court, made up of EU and UK nominees.

The intervention comes as May faced fresh criticism over her suggestion that a US-Canada style trading arrangement could be employed on the island of Ireland to prevent a hard border.

The North American nations are not part of a customs union but have struck a deal which allows tens of thousands of border crossings every day.  

However, the plan was immediately rejected by Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who said the model was “definitely not a solution that we could possibly entertain”.

Meanwhile, the DUP leader Arlene Foster will today meet Barnier along with the DUP’s Parliamentary Leader Nigel Dodds MP, Brexit Spokesman Sammy Wilson and Northern Ireland MEP Diane Dodds.  

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Foster said: “We will not countenance any proposal which would create a new border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.” 

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