The Frenchman said modern-day free-trade agreements do much more than just eliminate customs tariffs between countries. He accused Mr Johnson of rowing back on promises made when the Political Declaration was agreed last October after claims by the Government that a Canada-style trade deal would be acceptable. The EU’s chief negotiator said the bloc was hoping to include much more detail in its future relationship with Britain, including chapters on services, security, transport and university cooperation.
Addressing students in Brussels, Mr Barnier fumed: “We are no longer in the seventies when the main purpose of trade agreements was to take down tariff walls.
“A modern trade agenda is about more than boosting economic exchanges and commercial opportunities.
“Modern trade is sustainable – it’s about ensuring high standards from social or environmental to health and safety.”
Mr Barnier questioned the “credibility” of Britain’s ability to hold the COP26 climate summit in November if Mr Johnson “cuts corners on environmental and social rights for the sake of gaining market shares”.
The bureaucrat’s intervention comes after tensions between Britain and Brussels reached breaking point ahead of Monday’s formal talks.
Mr Barnier is said to be furious in the way Downing Street has used Twitter to attack the EU’s trade plans.
He insisted the UK wouldn’t be allowed to trade without EU countries without robust “rules of origin” agreements that provide assurances over British made products.
“We love ‘Made in Britain’, of course, but we must have guarantees that the goods we import from the UK, tariff and quota-free, are really British.
“We cannot take the risk that the UK becomes a kind of assembly hub for goods all over the world, allowing them to enter the single market as British goods.”
In an attempt to defuse some tensions, Mr Barnier suggested that Britain wouldn’t be made to sign up to vast swathes.
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