London offers 'free trade zone' with EU for post-Brexit

Home"Anciens1"London offers 'free trade zone' with EU for post-Brexit
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"Our proposal would create a free trade area between the UK and the EU with a set of common rules for industrial goods and agricultural products," said Theresa May. - Photo credits: TOLGA AKMEN / AFP

Theresa May presented Friday her vision of the future relationship she wants with the European Union, ensuring that her ministers, very divided on Brexit, had reached a "common position".

A "free trade area" with the EU for post-Brexit. This proposal was long awaited by the Europeans, tired of the procrastination of the British government on the content of the negotiations on the divorce from the EU, planned in less than nine months. The British plan was unveiled in the form of a statement issued at the end ofa marathon executive meeting at Checkers, the country residence of British Prime Ministers, 70 km northwest of London.

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"Our proposal would create a free trade area between the UK and the EU with a common set of rules for industrial goods and agricultural products," says Theresa May in this paper, Downing Street saying the services sector would make on the other hand, the object of "different arrangements". "We have also agreed on a new business-friendly customs model with the freedom to enter into new trade agreements around the world," added the Conservative Prime Minister. According to the British executive, these proposals will prevent the return of a physical border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, this issue being the main stumbling block of the current negotiations and a major concern for the inhabitants. from the island.

In this project, London also emphasizes the need to "intensify" the preparatory work to face all possible scenarios - in particular that of a possible exit of the EU without agreement with Brussels, that the companies fear. Theresa May, who will publish a white paper detailing her objectives next week, says the proposal is the result of a "common position" by her government's members, whose divisions on Brexit's policies had made people fear the worst. for the Friday meeting at Checkers. The publication of Theresa May's draft had already been published, but was already provoking critical reactions from the Eurosceptics side. "We now see the true face of Theresa May. This is a bad (plan) for the UK, "said John Longworth, co-chair of the pro-Brexit Leave Means Leave movement.

"Step by step"

Now remains to know what will be the reaction of Brussels, who would like to see the discussions finally progress. "The sooner we have a precise British proposal on the Irish border, the better the chances of finalizing the Brexit negotiations this year," said European Council President Donald Tusk this week. On Friday, Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, said he was "ready to adapt his offer" and hoped that the white paper will resolve "the UK's internal political debate and negotiations with us".

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, spoke on Thursday about the possibility of stalling. On Friday, however, he stressed that this would require unanimous agreement of the 27 EU members. At his side, the head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said: "we want to stick to the established timetable. We will operate step by step.

The British proposal should also be closely scrutinized by companies, which also did not hide their discomfort this week. Patience "is at an end," said Adam Marshall, the managing director of the British Chambers of Commerce. Tom Enders, the executive chairman of the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, was pessimistic about the outcome of the negotiations. "Whether it's hard, soft, light or clean, (Brexit) will cause damage to the aviation industry and others, and cause damage in the UK," he said.

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