Irish border talks will come first, Brussels promises Varadkar

Cheryl Sanders
March 10, 2018

In response to the Chancellor's call on Wednesday for a bespoke free trade agreement (FTA) including financial services, Mr Tusk said: "In the FTA we can offer trade in goods with the aim of covering all sectors, subject to zero tariffs and no quantitative restrictions".

In a major speech, the Chancellor criticised "sceptics" who believe such an agreement is impossible because a similar one doesn't now exist.

"This is a negotiation where both sides will need to give and take", Hammond insisted.

Varadkar said the European Single Market must be protected throughout the negotiations, adding that he wants "the transition period to be smooth".

It is encouraging to see that the United Kingdom puts a continued participation in the EMA on the Brexit negotiating table, but questions remain about the feasibility of an associate membership of the EMA when leaving the single market. We are not going to sacrifice these principles.

The UK's Prime Minister last week singled out the European Union pharmaceuticals regulatory regime as one in which the UK could continue to participate post Brexit.

"Our economies, including in financial services, are interconnected. our regulatory frameworks are identical. and our businesses and citizens depend on cross-border financial services trade in their day-to-day lives".

He added: "No deal is better than a bad deal".

In a speech on Wednesday, the Chancellor is to address those doubtful about such an arrangement, arguing that not only is it possible, but that it would be "very much in our mutual interest". However, the proposal and its apparent inherent contradictions - in the context of the ongoing EU/UK negotiations - may not provide enough clarity to allow pan-EU companies sufficient confidence in the post-Brexit landscape to put their contingency planning on hold.

Mr Tusk recalled that the Good Friday Agreement, whose 20th anniversary is next month, had been "ratified by huge majorities north and south of the border".

The banker also pointed out that Michel Barnier, Europe's chief Brexit negotiator, was supposed to be determining the Commission's stance, not the French finance minister.

"Instead of name calling, the Government should take a long, hard look at themselves and admit that the deal we can negotiate is a direct outcome of their self-imposed red lines".

But many banks like Goldman Sachs and Standard Chartered have decided not to rely on a transition deal or bet that Britain will get favourable trading terms for financial services once the political noise dies down.

DONALD TUSK HAS said that every European Union leader is dedicated to protecting the peace process in Northern Ireland and avoiding a hard border with the Republic.

"The reality on the ground today is that firms can't make their next move until they know what the state of play will be from March 2019", said Cherry.

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