Michel Barnier refused to accept a British offer to collect trade tariffs on behalf of Brussels as he categorically ripped up Theresa May’s White Paper by ruling out the proposal as an evolution on her red lines.
The European Union’s Brexit negotiator picked apart the controversial Chequers plan, declaring the bloc would not “delegate” the collection of trade tariffs to a ‘third country.’
Dominic Raab is not taking it lightly launching a desperate fight back in the hope of jumpstarting the stalled negotiations by reaffirming the link between the £39bn divorce bill and a trade deal.
Mr Rabb has only been in the job less than three weeks, Mr Raab put a brave face on and told his negotiating partner: “We have work to do.”
May risks losing backing from Conservative Brexiteers by offering what many have deemed to be a soft divorce from the bloc while calling for the adoption of a common rulebook on EU regulation and a free-trade area.
Westminster’s ‘Facilitated Customs Area’, which proposes collecting trade tariffs on behalf of the EU for goods destined for consumption within its borders and then reimbursing Brussels, was ridiculed by Barnier.
Barnier told the Media: “The EU cannot – and will not – delegate the application of its customs policy and rules, VAT and excise duty collection to a non-member, who would not be subject to the EU’s governance structures.”
Barnier refused to describe the UK position as “evolved”, insisting the controversial Chequers document clashes with the wishes of the remaining 27 EU leaders.
He said: “I don’t want to intervene in the domestic political debate but there are areas where we have a problem, they clash with the European Council guidelines, they contradict my clear negotiating guidelines.
Indivisibility of the four freedoms, the integrity of the single market, these are key. They are our main asset and we’re not going to negotiate on that indivisibility and the UK knows that.”
Raab displayed a more upbeat tone, suggesting that the UK and EU are one set closer to a deal.
He said: “Discussions this week have moved us closer again to an agreement on the last few remaining areas, including governance, data protection and administrative procedures.