Macron crackdown: France fights to lock Britain to Brussels – Brexit trade battle erupts

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Macron crackdown: France fights to lock Britain to Brussels – Brexit trade battle erupts

In a secret meeting, EU ambassadors poured over the Frenchman’s opening gambit ahead of formal trade talks opening with Britain next month. An internal decision to finalise the bloc’s legal text was delayed after a series of demands were made to further tighten their demands. Paris demanded substantial changes to the so-called “level-playing field”, under which Britain will be expected to commit to keeping EU environmental, social and state aid rules as the price for striking a free-trade agreement with Brussels.

EU Capitals want the text to reflect the level of “ambition” they are willing in show in any future relationship pact.

An EU diplomat told Express.co.uk: “We’re building a five-story house, as is the ambition we’re showing, whereas London is only trying to pitch a tent in the garden.”

Talks will continue on Friday as ambassadors meet once again in the hope of finalising the mandate, which they want to rubber-stamp at a ministerial meeting on February 25.

EU sources claim the bloc is “closing in on the landing zone” in order for formal negotiations between Brussels and Britain to begin in March.

“Level-playing field is a substantial part. But, there are other tweaks necessary as well,” one source said.

“It’s only normal member states take their time to make sure their interests are protected.”

Paris has long sought to take a tough line on Britain in the post-Brexit trade negotiations.

Emmanuel Macron’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire revealed France would block a “fish for finance” compromise in order to secured continued access to British waters for their fishermen.

Instead Mr Le Maire wants to entice British bankers to Paris after developing it into Europe’s leading financial services hub by restricting access for the City of London to the bloc’s markets.

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