France’s top negotiator said that, despite the tense situation, the EU should not be provoked into ending trade talks with the UK early. He also urged Britain to drop the “madman’s strategy” in negotiations.
Asked in parliament if the EU should stop the talks with London, France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs Clement Beaune replied: “At this stage, we’re right to continue to discuss with the British.”
Beaune told lawmakers that “some on the other side of the Channel could be trying to push us into making mistakes.”
Then they will say: ‘it’s the Europeans who don’t want a deal, we in Britain have made our best efforts.’ We shouldn’t fall into the trap.
The minister remained optimistic that the agreement is still possible and may be hammered out “in weeks of negotiations ahead of us.”
At the same time, Beaune told French media that a ‘no-deal’ scenario would be better than “a bad agreement, which would yield too much to the British and give them access to our market without respecting our regulations.”
The minister further blasted the British side for using “provocative or aggressive” tactics that “have never worked.” He compared the UK’s negotiation methods to a “madman’s strategy” aimed at intimidating opponents.
“I hope that will stop because it is a bad tactic,” Beaune said.
The UK is set to leave the European Single Market and the EU Customs Union completely unless it negotiates a new trade deal with Brussels by January 1, 2021. The main obstacle now is the Internal Markets Bill currently being debated in the British Parliament.
The proposed legislation aims to ensure a cohesive market among different parts of the UK, including Northern Ireland. The bill would also give London the power to override some of the parts of its hard-fought withdrawal agreement reached with Brussels in January. The EU is strongly protesting against that.
Meanwhile, London has voiced dissatisfaction with the way the EU is handling the talks as well. The UK’s top negotiator David Frost complained earlier this month that Britain needs to “see more realism from the EU about our status as an independent country.” He said that the country’s priority is to control its borders, and the government is “not scared at all” of ending up without a trade deal.
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