Brexit: Ursula von der Leyen calls for ‘fairness’ from UK
While addressing the European Council in Brussels today, the Commission President claimed the UK would remain “free to decide what they want to do” under a proposed trade deal and said the EU would “simply adapt” the condition for access to the single market.
Ms von der Leyen said: “On the level-playing field, we have repeatedly made clear to our UK partners that the principle of fair competition is pre-conditioned to privileged access to the EU market.
“It is the largest, single market in the world and it is only fair that competitors to our own enterprises face the same conditions on our own market.
“But this is not to say that we would require the UK to follow us every time we decide to raise our level of ambition for example in the environmental field.
“They would remain free – sovereign, if you wish – to decide what they want to do.
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“We would simply adapt the conditions for access to our market accordingly the decision of the United Kingdom and this would apply vice versa.”
Ms Kuenssberg, the BBC’s Political Editor, was stunned and, while sharing the clip on Twitter, Ms Kuenssberg wrote: “But…”
She then tweeted: “Yet… no sense in Number 10 that anything is really moving at all.”
Ms von der Leyen’s claims of a possible compromise was met with anger by Prime Minister Boris Johnson who lashed out at the EU for introducing new demands late in the negotiations.
Mr Johnson said: “Clearly that is not the sensible way to proceed and it’s unlike any other free trade deal.
“It’s a way of keeping the UK kind of locked in the EU’s orbit, in their regulatory orbit.”
Ms von der Leyen’s intervention comes after she warned EU27 leaders a no-deal Brexit is most likely to come out of negations.
According to an EU official, she said the “probability of a no deal is higher than of a deal”.
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She warned attempting to reach agreements on key sticking points such as the so-called level-playing field and fishing rights would be “difficult”.
The Commission President said she would decide by Sunday whether a deal is possible.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the bloc would “compromise” in order to get a deal agreed but urged Downing Street to do the same.
He said: “What we do need to have is that when there are too many differences in standards and applying regulation so there is an unfair advantage for companies in Europe towards the UK, or from the UK towards Europe.
“In the spirit of managed divergence you need to have this process laid out on how you deal with that.
“And this has nothing to dos with trying to undercut UK sovereignty.
“It will have a huge impact so we are everything but relaxed.
“The issue is, however, we are willing to compromise but we cannot jeopardise the integrity and the working of the internal market.”
Back in January, the UK formally left the EU and negotiations have been gridlocked over the key sticking points.
Mr Johnson’s extended the negotiations after the October deadline came and went and there is now less than a month until the transition period ends on December 31.
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