May plots Brexit trade agreement with EU to avoid 'Swiss-trap' deal COLLAPSE

Posted on Dec 28 2017 - 5:15pm by admin

Ministers want to set out key industries, such as the pharmaceutical sector, where both the UK and EU will cooperate on regulations.

In exchange for common standards, both sides will get access to each other’s markets.

And should either side later abandon the agreed regulations, World Trade Organisation rules could be invoked.

The idea is part of a bid to press Brussels into a bespoke Brexit deal, something EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has dismissed but Germany’s foreign minister has backed.

Ministers say the deal is designed to avoid a “Swiss trap”, so-called because Switzerland’s EU agreement means a change in one sector could lead to the entire deal unravelling.

A Whitehall source told The Times: “The last thing we want is to strike a deal that then has to be renegotiated a few years down the line.”

A swathe of other other sectors would not be included in the deal, leaving the Government to enforce whatever regulations it sees fit.

But although some in Brussels are keen for a sector-by-sector deal, they are likely to demand certain areas, most notably the City of London, will have to abide by existing rules.

And the approach could cause a split in the Cabinet with Boris Johnson previously talking-up Britain’s freedom to slash Brussels red tape.

The Foreign Secretary is leading a group of senior ministers who want to cut EU regulation, while people including Chancellor Philip Hammond are thought to be wary of taking steps which might limit access to the single market.

Theresa May has not said publicly which side she will come down on, but Mr Johnson said he believed his argument was “gaining ground”.

The US in particular has made clear that signing up to observe EU regulations on issues like data protection, animal welfare and food standards after Brexit could limit the kind of free trade deal available to the UK.

US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross warned during a recent visit to London that continued regulatory alignments could act as “land mines” to a deal.

Speaking during a visit to Moscow, Mr Johnson said: “I think that the argument is gaining ground that it would be madness to leave the EU without taking back control of our regulatory freedoms.”

Mr Johnson said that during recent talks with the Polish government he had heard their concerns over Brussels over-regulation in growth areas like bulk data, technology, artificial intelligence and bioscience.

He added after Brexit, “we just may want to do things differently”.

Mr Johnson said: “The world needs to move to global standards. I think the idea of regional blocs with very densely integrated legal systems – the EU is the only example of such a creation in the world at the moment.

“I think people want to see a much freer approach with global standards and individuals being able to trade more freely.

“I think that argument is gaining ground.”

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