EU industry lobby adds to pressure on UK over Brexit talks: Britain needed trade to be as „frictionless as with a customs union” after Brexit
A European industry lobby told Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday that Britain needed trade to be as „frictionless as with a customs union” after Brexit, adding to growing EU pressure on London over divorce negotiations that have stalled. May’s office issued a statement after the meeting saying the government stuck to its position that Britain should have its own trade policy with the rest of the world and frictionless trade with the EU. In addition, there should be no hard border with EU member Ireland, the statement said.
The EU is voicing increasing frustration with lack of progress in key areas of the Brexit negotiations, most notably on the Irish border, and dismisses Britain’s thinking on future cooperation from trade to security as unrealistic.
During the latest, inconclusive negotiating round last week, the EU was angered by London publicly threatening to go back on a deal on a financial settlement if the EU did not give it full access to the Galileo satellite navigation system after Brexit.
That came in as the two sides’ envoys sat in a room in Brussels trying to find a solution to their disagreement over the European version of the GPS.
In other disagreements, the EU has repeatedly ridiculed Britain’s plan to use top-notch technology for border checks – including customs – on the island of Ireland after Brexit.
The bloc says that would go nowhere close to the ultimate goal of avoiding re-erecting a „hard” frontier between EU state Ireland and Britain’s province of Northern Ireland, which both fear the border issue weighing on their still-fragile peace.
The European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT), which brings together around 50 firms from Germany’s energy giant E.ON to the Dutch publisher Wolters Kluwer to the British-Swedish pharma group AstraZeneca , also issued a warning during their meeting with May.
TRANSITION AT STAKE
May’s office issued a statement after the meeting saying the government stuck to its position that Britain should have its own trade policy with the rest of the world and frictionless trade with the EU. In addition, there should be no hard border with EU member Ireland, the statement said.
Embattled at home, May has so far failed to come up with a final version of what sort of future customs arrangement London would seek with the EU after Brexit.
May is locked between those seeking a clean cut and wanting to leave the EU’s customs union to pursue new trade deals elsewhere in the world, and those keen to keep Britain as close to the bloc as possible Brexit to limit disruptions to trade and peoples’ lives.
British manufacturers have added to the pressure on May by calling on the government to abandon one of its post-Brexit customs proposals, slamming the idea of a technology-based plan for border checks as naive and a waste of money.
Ahead of a late July summit when all 28 EU leaders, including May, had been expected to mark another milestone in the talks, the bloc’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told London to stop playing „hide and seek” on Brexit.