EU Agrees to Baseline Rules for Post-Brexit Trade

Written by SK Ashby

The deadline for Britain's departure from the European customs union and single market won't arrive until the end of the year, but we may already know the outcome of their upcoming negotiations to avoid a hard break.

The 27 member nations of the European Union (EU) have just agreed to a baseline set of standards and rules for negotiating a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain and they lay out terms that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson almost certainly won't agree to.

Among other things, the terms say any agreement must prevent either side from gaining a competitive advantage by cutting regulations.

“The envisaged agreement should uphold common high standards, and corresponding high standards over time with (European) Union standards as reference point,” said the document, which was seen by Reuters.

It covers state aid, competition, social, employment and environmental standards, as well as relevant tax regulations. [...]

“We are ready to offer a highly-ambitious trade deal providing that level playing field is ensured, as well as close cooperation in many other areas,” said Croat minister Andreja Metelko Zgombic who will chair the Tuesday session as Zagreb currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

Johnson's government responded to the EU's agreement this afternoon by saying they won't agree to any of the EU's rules.

“The UK’s primary objective in negotiations is to ensure that we restore our economic and political independence on 1 January 2021,” Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said.

Asked later whether this meant that avoiding alignment with Brussels regulations and preventing any role for the European Court of Justice in ruling on future trade disputes were greater priorities than ensuring smooth trade after the end of this year, a senior No 10 source said: “Yes.”

The source added: “Our overriding objective in the negotiations is by 1 January to have taken back control and we won’t agree to anything that doesn’t deliver that. Which means no rule-taking from the EU and no role for the European Court of Justice."

It's unlikely that the Johnson government will ever agree to adhere to European labor and environmental standards because reducing those standards is half the point of the Brexit.

The goal is to cut regulations and standards so that the British economy will begin to look more like the American economy: stratified and unequal.

Johnson and his conservatives cloak their intentions by making populist pitches not too dissimilar to those made by Donald Trump and the GOP here in the United States, but those who ultimately benefit from dismantling government won't be average Brits. Average Americans and even employees of relevant industries haven't benefited from the Trump regime's efforts to deregulate, for example, but wealthy executives and shareholders have.

If you're a citizen of the United Kingdom who actually wants your nation's economy to look more like the United States, then I suppose this is good news for you.

A spokesman for Johnson's government also said they're willing to crash out of the European customs union and default to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules if they have to, but I remind you that Trump has effectively crippled the WTO by refusing to appoint any new judges to the trade body's appellate court.