MEPs to vote on vision for future EU-UK relationship
The motion amounts to a rejection of Theresa May’s Brexit vision.
A motion to be voted on by MEPs would require the UK to accept “binding” commitments to EU rules if it is to secure the kind of deep and comprehensive trade deal sought by Theresa May.
A draft version of the motion, which will be put to the vote next Wednesday, amounts to a rejection of the vision for future EU-UK relations set out by the Prime Minister in her Mansion House speech last week.
It insists on a “binding interpretation role” for the European Court of Justice (CJEU) and rejects UK efforts to “cherry-pick” single market access for particular sectors, such as the financial services industry.
Limitations on cross-border financial activities are “customary” in free trade agreements, which always impose “exclusions, reservations and exceptions” to market access for services, it states.
#Brexit: What is missing is a concept, an architecture, a vision for how the future relationship can work. An Associate Agreement would fit the different elements for our cooperation inside a framework. https://t.co/bP3CjJrwGd— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) March 7, 2018
“A deep and comprehensive free trade area requires a binding convergence mechanism towards the EU acquis (rulebook) and a binding interpretation role of the CJEU and does not allow cherry-picking of sectors of the internal market,” states the motion.
The UK’s current position leaves only an “association agreement” as an “appropriate” framework for future relations, unless Mrs May is willing to reconsider her red lines, it adds.
Only continued membership of the single market and customs union can guarantee the “frictionless” trade which the UK is seeking.
Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, the president of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani said that MEPs would not accept an agreement on a Brexit transition which did not treat all EU citizens equally.
The Italian MEP said that Mrs May’s insistence that the UK will leave the single market and customs union meant that “the future treaty can only be an FTA. It may go deeper than Canada or Japan but they will be the models”.
Mr Tajani said he was “very concerned” that the UK had rejected the fallback option for the Irish border set out by the European Commission last week, pointing out that the UK had so far supplied no alternative solutions.
The European Parliament vote will not be binding on leaders of the remaining 27 EU states when they finalise guidelines for negotiations on the future trade relationship at a summit of the European Council later this month.
But the Parliament does hold a veto on the UK’s final withdrawal agreement and will have a vote, alongside 38 national and regional assemblies, on any subsequent free trade deal.
The current motion lays down a marker on the kind of agreement likely to be acceptable to MEPs.
The European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt said there should be “one coherent governance” of the new relationship between the EU and the UK.
He outlined plans for an association based on “four pillars” – a free trade agreement, international security, internal security and thematic co-operation covering areas such as aviation and the Erasmus programme.
Mr Verhofstadt said the FTA would not be comparable with other agreements.
“Britain is not Mexico, Britain is not Morocco, Britain is not Ukraine,” he said. “We have a huge number of interactions between all markets so it will be an important, broad FTA as the first chapter of this association agreement.”