A “deep and comprehensive” trade deal of the kind the U.K. says it wants with the EU would require Britain to accept a “binding convergence mechanism” with EU laws, according to a draft resolution from the European Parliament obtained by POLITICO.
The uncompromising 13-page document — titled “Motion for a resolution to wind up the debate on the framework of the future EU-UK relationship” — is a statement of the Parliament’s priorities for the U.K.’s exit as set out by the Brexit Steering Group led by Guy Verhofstadt.
It proposes an “association agreement” between the EU and the U.K., and makes clear that the EU has “binding common rules, common institutions and common supervisory, enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms” which mean that even closely aligned non-EU countries cannot “enjoy similar benefits or market access.”
The Parliament does not have a formal role in the Brexit negotiations but it will have a binding vote on the eventual deal. The draft resolution — the fourth issued by the Parliament on Brexit — is designed to put pressure on the EU and U.K. to take heed of MEPs’ wishes.
Many of the 65 clauses in the document, which is a draft and therefore subject to change, read as a direct rebuttal of the vision of Brexit that U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May set out in her Mansion House speech last week.
She is pushing for an ambitious trade deal that includes financial services and allows the U.K. to remain closely aligned to the EU in some areas of the single market but not others.
By contrast, the European Parliament text states that:
— “A third country [cannot] have the same benefits as a Member State of the European Union, or an EFTA/EEA Member.”
— A “deep and comprehensive” trade deal must entail “a binding interpretation role” for the European Court of Justice and “does not allow cherry-picking of sectors of the internal market.”
— One priority is that a “level playing field is ensured and EU standards are safeguarded and a race to the bottom avoided,” and that maintaining a level playing field means abiding by the EU’s competition and state aid rules.
— “Limitations in the cross-border provisions of financial services are a customary feature of [free trade agreements].”
— “Taxation matters should be integrated in any further agreement between UK and the EU to ensure a maximum level of cooperation between the EU and the UK and its dependent territories in the field of corporate taxation.”
The text will be issued on Wednesday, before the Council of the EU publishes its own guidelines for negotiations on the U.K.’s future relationship with the bloc.
The document insists that “continued membership of the United Kingdom in the Internal Market and the Customs Union” is the Parliament’s preferred option — something the U.K. government has ruled out.
On the issue of the Northern Irish border, which remains a major stumbling block, the Parliament text says it welcomed the recent proposals in the European Commission’s draft Withdrawal Agreement, “which makes the backstop option outlined in the Joint Report of the 8th of December 2017 operational.”
According to that Commission document, in the absence of an alternative solution, Northern Ireland should remain part of the EU customs union and maintain full regulatory alignment — effectively imposing a new trade boundary in the Irish Sea. The proposal was rejected by London and Belfast, with May stating that no U.K. prime minister could agree to it.
On the issues of “internal security” and “foreign policy, security cooperation and development cooperation” the Parliament document strikes a more emollient tone. It makes clear that the U.K. can still participate in “civilian and military EU missions,” although with no lead role. And it states that, “it is in the mutual interest of the EU and the U.K. to establish a partnership that ensures continued security cooperation to face shared threats, especially terrorism and organised crime.”
Verhofstadt met with May, David Davis and other ministers in London Tuesday. He expressed optimism that an agreement on citizens’ rights could be reached soon.