18 June 2020 | UK NEWS
The EU’s President has said that it will not accept a deal that does not include a “level playing field”, but is willing to be “creative” in order to reach a deal.
Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU would not allow “downward competition” in standards and that the UK and the EU should be pushing for “higher standards”.
The UK has thus far been resisting EU pressure to agree to such a level playing field, because it would tie the UK into maintaining EU regulations surrounding workers’ rights, environmental protections and state subsidies.
Following Monday’s summit with Boris Johnson, President Ursula von der Leyen gave an update to the European Parliament in which she stated that the majority of the deal still needed to be negotiated.
“This means that we are now half-way through these negotiations with five months left to go.
“But we’re definitely not half-way through the work to reach an agreement.
“With little time ahead of us, we will do all in our power to reach an agreement, we will be constructive as we’ve always been and we’re ready to be creative to find common ground where there even seems to be none.”
On the issue of a level playing field, she told the Parliament:
“It cannot be a downward competition.
“Just think of labour standards or environmental protection.
“It should be a shared interest for the European Union and the UK to never slide backwards and always advance together towards higher standards.”
She continued on the issue of the UK’s fishing waters, acknowledging in a significant move that the UK did have “sovereignty” over its waters, but that the EU is asking for “predictability, and we ask for guarantees for [EU] fisherman and fisherwomen who’ve been sailing in those waters for decades”.
She also identified an anticipation for the European Court of Justice to be included in the deal, saying that the EU will “expect a role for the European Court of Justice where it matters.”
The UK has previously stated that it is unwilling to concede on these issues.
In response to claims by the UK that the EU negotiation stance is unreasonable, President Ursula von der Leyen stated: “These are our objectives, not only in our discussions with the UK but in any relationship with any partner.
“Because these are principles at the heart of the European Union – fair competition, rising social standards, the protection of our citizens and the rule of law.
“This is who we are and it is not going to change.”
The UK and EU negotiating teams are now due to have weekly meetings, with the intention of ramping up the intensity of the negotiations following Monday’s summit, when the hope of a deal by the end of July was expressed.
We will bring you further details of these more regular negotiations as they emerge.