MEPs claim they will vote against any free-trade agreement that doesn’t feature “robust” protections on workers’ rights, environmental and competition standards. In a draft resolution, the euro politicians reinforce the bloc’s demand for a regulatory level-playing field between the UK and EU. It is a “necessary condition for the European Parliament to give its consent to a trade agreement with the UK”, the document reads. MEPs will eventually have to vote to ratify the trade deal, with the ballot expected to take place in October.
MEPs will also call for Boris Johnson’s trade talks team to “revise its negotiating position”.
They will vote on the plan to keep Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, locked to the bloc’s rigid opening position on Friday.
The resolution says the eurocrat must guard against a “race to the bottom” on EU standards.
It also doubles down the on EU’s bid to make Britain apply the bloc’s state aid rules in UK law as the price for a deal.
MEPs could veto Brexit trade deal if UK isn’t locked to EU rules
Michel Barnier and David McAllister, the EU Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator
David Frost, the UK’s chief trade negotiator with the EU, branded the demand “egregious” in a recent letter to Mr Barnier.
The Brussels bureaucrat has previously suggested he is ready to compromise on the bloc’s demands.
Yesterday he called on British negotiators to budge in the hope of breaking the current impasse.
“I’m ready to compromise,” Mr Barnier told a European trade union leaders conference in Brussels.
The European Parliament chamber in Brussels
In a move that could unlock the trade talks, he dropped a demand for Britain to directly apply EU competition law, which would mean handing vast powers to Brussels and the European Court of Justice over business and industrial subsidises.
Referring to the Political Declaration, Mr Barnier added: “All we’re asking for is what we have agreed upon, politically, to be translated into law.”
The 27-page wish list agreed last autumn, says the “future relationship must ensure open and fair competition, encompassing robust commitments to ensure a level-playing field”.
Offering a fresh assessment of the fourth round of talks between the two sides, Mr Barnier said: “During the past negotiation round the UK must have taken note of the EU’s willingness to search for compromises.
Michel Barnier is the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator
“What we now need to make progress are clear and concrete signals that the UK is open to work on an agreement.
“There is no need to change or adjust the EU mandate, we can find the necessary compromise on the condition that the UK changes its approach and accepts appropriate balances of rights, benefits and obligations and legally binding constraints based on the back of the agreed Political Declaration of last October.
“The declaration is the only valid starting point for the negotiation.”
Mr Barnier also signalled that the high-level meeting between Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen could see new intensity injected into the negotiations.
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He said: “I hope high-level discussions with Prime Minister Johnson, that will take place this month, will provide a new political impetus to our toolbox.
“With determination on both sides, I am convinced we can overcome the difficulties.”
European ambassadors agreed to back the bid to reinvigorate the trade talks.
After a meeting with Mr Barnier and senior EU diplomats, a source said: The meeting has shown the continued strong support for Michel Barnier among EU member states.
“The EU will continue to approach negotiations constructively and united.”