BRUSSELS: The leaders of the European Union’s three institutions warned Britain yesterday that it cannot expect “the highest quality access to the single market” unless it adopts the bloc’s standards on environment, labour, taxation and state aid.
“Without being a member, you cannot retain the benefits of membership,” they said in an op-ed published by several European media yesterday.
“Without the free movement of people, there can be no free movement of capital, goods and services,” European Council president Charles Michel, European Parliament president David Sassoli and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen wrote.
Britain will no longer be an EU member state from today, but it will enter a transition period until the end of December that is meant to give citizens and businesses time to adapt while an agreement is hammered out on the shape of the future relationship.
Trade, fishing rights and a raft of other issues are up for discussion.
Although the aim is to achieve a “zero tariff, zero quota” trade deal, the EU says that would also require “zero dumping”.
It will insist that Britain remain aligned on standards and regulations to guarantee fair competition, but London has already indicated it will not be “a rule taker”.
During the transition period, Britain will continue to apply EU laws but will no longer be represented in EU institutions, and British diplomats in Brussels will have to surrender passes giving them access to the European Council.
EU officials were reminded this week, ahead of Britain’s exit, that they should not disclose confidential information about the bloc’s business.
Meanwhile, Ursula von der Leyen said the EU will start a new chapter after Britain leaves, with no fewer opportunities as a united force on global issues from climate change to technological transformation.
“Our experience has taught us that strength does not lie in splendid isolation but in our unique union,” she told a news conference.
“Nowhere else in the world can you find 27 nations of 440 million people speaking 24 different languages, relying on each other, working together, living together. Let there be no doubt – the challenges that Europe faces and the opportunities that it can grasp have not changed because of Brexit.”
She said Brexit offered the 27 remaining members of the EU “a once-in-a-generation opportunity” to ensure that Europe leads the way on the challenge of climate change, the digital revolution, managing migration and building strong partnerships across the globe.