UK-EU trade talks kick off – badly
- The start of negotiations on future relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union has turned into an unsporting mismatch. Boris Johnson no longer seems to care about objectives his government signed up to just a few months ago, leaving Brussels struggling to hold London to common standards once the Withdrawal Agreement transition period the two sides negotiated expires at the end of this year.
- Johnson has turned his back on the commitment to a regulatory level playing field set out in the declaration on future relations, which he signed in October along with the withdrawal treaty and which his Conservative Party endorsed in parliament in January after it won a thumping majority.
- The government has also dropped all talk of seeking a “deep and special” relationship, or of “frictionless trade,” and seems to have written off hope of a long-term deal ensuring access for the U.K.’s giant financial services industry.
- Ministers have made clear that they put the sovereign right to diverge from EU rules above any economic benefit, and they have instructed business and farmers to prepare for friction at the borders.