Brexit talks on brink: Barnier issues statement firing warning at UK for refusing to budge

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The Brussels’ bureaucrat said the Government’s proposals on future state subsidies policy “fall significantly short of the commitments” signed up to by Boris Johnson less than a year ago. He also insisted the UK had not lived up to expectations on the level-playing field for workers’ rights, environmental, and health and safety standards. Speaking after the eighth round of trade talks, Mr Barnier said: “Significant differences remain in areas of essential interest for the EU.

“The UK is refusing to include indispensable guarantees of fair competition in our future agreement, while requesting free access to our market.

“We have taken note of the UK Government’s statement on ‘a new approach to government’s subside control’.

“But this falls significantly short of the commitments made in the Political Declaration.

“Similarly, we are still missing important guarantees, on non-regression from social, environmental, labour and climate standards.”

The British tabled plans to follow the World Trade Organisation’s rules for state aid after the post-Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year.

Mr Barnier also insisted Downing Street would have reveal more of its plans for food safety in order to avoid being struck off EU’s third country food imports.

“More clarity is needed for the EU to do the assessment for the third-country listing of the UK,” the Frenchman added.

After a furious trade row broke out after the publication of British plans to allow ministers to overwrite large sections of the EU Withdrawal Agreement, Mr Barnier said the bloc would ramp up its preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

“To conclude a future partnership, mutual trust and confidence are and will be necessary,” he said.

“At the same time, the EU is intensifying its properness work to be ready for all scenarios on January 1, 2021.”

Meanwhile the Commission has given Downing Street until the end of the month to make significant changes to its new controversial Brexit plan or face the end of the trade talks.

Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic called the the immediate withdrawal of the Government’s Internal Market Bill during a tense stand-off with Michael Gove.

The Brussels bureaucrat accused Downing Street of threatening Good Friday Agreement with its plans to hand ministers the power to overrule chunks of last year’s EU Withdrawal Agreement.

He also insisted the bloc could take legal action against Britain, which includes massive financial and trade sanctions.

The warning came during an emergency meeting of the Brexit Joint Committee demanded by the bloc after the publication of the legislation.

Mr Sefcovic told “the UK Government to withdraw these measures from the draft bill in the shortest time possible and in any case by the end of the month”.

He added: “By putting forward this Bill, the UK has seriously damaged trust between the EU and the UK. It is now up to the UK government to re-establish that trust.”

A European Commission statement said: “If the Bill were to be adopted, it would constitute an extremely serious violation of the Withdrawal Agreement and of international law.

“The EU does not accept the argument that the aim of the draft Bill is to protect the Good Friday Agreement. In fact, it is of the view that it does the opposite.

“He reminded the UK government that the Withdrawal Agreement contains a number of mechanisms and legal remedies to address violations of the legal obligations contained in the text – which the European Union will not be shy in using.”

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