LUXEMBOURG – Judging from the United Kingdom’s plan to withdraw from the European Union’s single market and the customs union in its Brexit process, the only model for a future relationship will be a free trade agreement model, albeit one that represents a reduction in economic ties, the president of the European Council said Wednesday.
Donald Tusk said the EU would seek close ties with the UK after Brexit, including a zero-tariff trade model, uninterrupted cooperation in the ambit of security and foreign affairs and continued joint participation in research, education and culture but leveled a stark warning that London would not be free to pick and chose the perks on offer to integrated member states, as it was not in Brussels’ interest.
“Because of Brexit we will be drifting apart, this will be the first FTA (free trade agreement) in history that loosens economic ties rather than increases them,” Tusk said. “Drifting apart is the essence of Brexit,” he added as he outlined new draft guidelines that would comply with the EU’s requirements from the process.
He spoke at a press briefing alongside the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel.
Tusk, who met with the British Prime Minister Theresa May last week, said that UK-EU trade after Brexit will undoubtedly become more complicated and more costly than it was currently but Brussels would nonetheless continue the negotiations with an open-mind and a realistic approach.
Bettel said the UK government had so far been unclear on its aims for leaving the EU.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, leader of the Conservative Party, said her government would leave the single market and customs union in order to seek a fresh deal with the EU that was deeper than those enjoyed by the likes of Canada and Norway.