France mocked Boris Johnson’s claim that the UK may have an Australian-style deal with the EU after Brexit as “for birds”, warning that it may take another six months to conclude an ambitious trade deal .
His minister of European affairs told the London public that such an agreement did not exist and it was time for both sides to realize that the next stage of Brexit was “for people … not for politicians”.
Amélie de Montchalin also warned that the EU would not be forced to sign any trade agreement within an “artificial deadline” created by Johnson, and if Europe needed another six months to reach a good deal for both sides, it is what should happen.
In a speech at Chatham House, he indicated that France was ready to take a solid approach to the UK’s decision not to extend the transition period beyond December.
He said it would be practically impossible to make an agreement in 11 months if the United Kingdom were to diverge completely on the regulations, as this would require extremely complicated “line by line” negotiations on tariffs and border controls.
The only way to reach an agreement in the given time was through tight regulatory alignment, he said, warning that a crash out would have been the UK’s choice and not the EU’s.
“We are not ready to sign any kind of agreement on December 31st at 11pm. We cannot let our level of ambition be influenced by what I would call an artificial deadline. If the UK decides to shorten the negotiation period, it will be UK responsibility. It won’t be our European choice, “he said.
The prime minister repeatedly predicted readiness to break out at the end of the year, arguing that if the talks collapsed the UK would have at least one “Australian-style deal”.
This has been swept away by many who point out that Australia does not have an agreement with the EU and therefore this is only an understatement for nothing.
“The idea that they are good for being an alternative to a free trade agreement, an honest playing field, based on the Australian model (which by the way doesn’t exist) is for birds as you say in the UK,” he said De Montchalin.
He mocked the UK’s rejection of the idea that the geographical proximity of the EU and the UK was a valid argument for a “special relationship” that did not seem like a Canada or Australia-style agreement.
“Our future relationship will necessarily be a special relationship. You are not Canada, you are certainly not Australia, first of all because you can get here by train. You are the United Kingdom and, whatever happens, the United Kingdom will remain a strong economic power at the gates of the EU, geographically and economically.
He said that if the United Kingdom wanted a special relationship with the United States, it would still have to take into account the distance between the two nations.
“Paris and London are 300 miles apart. Boston and London are 3,000 miles away. it [a US trading relationship] it could be more difficult, “said De Montchalin.
He stressed that the UK must remember that when it was negotiating with the EU it was negotiating with 27 Member States, which like the United Kingdom were “sovereign” nations that had to protect the interests of their citizens.
If the UK acknowledged that sovereign states were at stake rather than an enemy European Union, then it would have opened up room for an agreement, he indicated.
His comments came when the government published its roadmap for negotiations with the EU over the next 10 weeks, revealing the key areas they will discuss during the talks.
There will be five rounds of negotiations starting Monday, with meetings taking place between London and Brussels and conducted in English.
The program includes talks on 11 topics: trade in goods; trade in services and investments; a level playing field for open and fair competition; transport; energy and civil nuclear cooperation; fishing; coordination of mobility and social security; law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters; thematic cooperation; participation in union programs; and horizontal provisions and governance.
The thematic cooperation section refers to the cybersecurity provisions, as well as to the migration involving asylum seekers and those who do not have the right to stay.
The “mobility” section will also examine provisions concerning health care for tourists, short-term visitors and to facilitate people who have paid pensions in two or more countries to avoid double social security obligations.
David Frost, chief negotiator of the United Kingdom or his deputy, will lead the discussions on behalf of the United Kingdom and, after next week, the shifts are scheduled for March 18 in London, April 6 in Brussels, April 27 in London and on May 13 in Brussels.
As previously informed by the government, a “budget” meeting – at which point Britain could still abandon the talks – is scheduled for June.
The rights of British citizens in the EU and their ability to move between EU states for business purposes and short-stay visas will also be discussed. Broader EU rights were regulated at the stage of the withdrawal agreement.