‘Don’t kid yourselves’ - EU warning to UK government over post-Brexit relationship

PUBLISHED: 10:52 11 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:59 11 February 2020

European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier talks to journalists during a news conference at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier talks to journalists during a news conference at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier has hit back at suggestions from the British chancellor Sajid Javid that the city will be able to secure long-term access to EU markets.

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A Downing Street photographer had been snapped a picture of a briefing document which showed the UK was asking for "permanent equivalence" for financial services.

This was followed by Javid's article in City AM, where he said the government will aim to conclude a full range of equivalence assessments by June 2020 - allowing the UK and EU to respect each other's rules.

But he said the UK would also have the freedom to diverge and regulate in a different way from the rules set in Brussels.

He wrote: "Each side will only grant equivalence if it believes the other's regulations are compatible.

"But compatible does not mean identical, and both the UK and the EU have at different times recognised the importance of focusing on regulatory outcomes.

"We will no longer be rule-takers, but we remain committed to the highest international standards of financial regulation and to shaping global rule-making."

But Brussels' chief negotiator Michel Barnier said: "Wherever possible we will grant equivalence on particular sectors of the financial industry. That is what we did with Canada, that's what we do with the United States and Japan, and it works. So I don't see why it shouldn't work with the United Kingdom."

But he also warned: "I would like to take this opportunity to make it clear to certain people in the United Kingdom bearing authority that they should not kid themselves about this - there will not be general, open-ended, ongoing equivalence in financial services."

He continued: "There will not be general, open-ended ongoing equivalence in financial services."

"We will keep control of these tools, and we will retain the free hand to take our own decisions," Barnier added.

Barnier joined Gove in warning that it would not be "business as usual" for the UK and EU after January 1.

"Come what may, on January 1 we will be imposing checks on all products entering the single market, just as we do to every other third country in the world," he said.

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