There is a chance that the European-British negotiations on the new trade terns with the European Union might fail, Dutch Foreign Minister Blok said. The talks can now begin: the ministers of the 27 lagging EU countries have approved the mandate for their negotiator Barnier.
But Blok wants to stay realistic. “Time is running out,” he says after the discussion. “We must not only negotiate, but also prepare ourselves for the chance that it will become a no-deal Brexit.”
In recent days the British have proposed to relax the rules for the trade agreement. For example, Britain want to retain control over environmental and labuor rules, government involvement and production standards. On the contrary, such less strict rules are an abomination to Minister Blok. Together with his European colleagues, he wants the merchandise of the British to meet all the requirements that apply in the EU.
A senior EU diplomat says:
“It is our rules that the British must comply with if they want to trade with the EU.” Blok finds that too strongly worded. “I don’t think it’s helpful to start bidding against each other in wild words, it’s hard enough. Heavy words don’t help right now.”
Blok is clear about the changes that the British want.
“The starting point is the agreement we concluded earlier. Nothing will change with regard to Northern Ireland either.”
The border between the British province of Northern Ireland and the EU Member State of Ireland has always been a difficult issue in the Brexit.
Now that ministers have approved the negotiating mandate, chief negotiator Barnier can start the talks with London. It is intended that everything will be completed before the end of the year.