EU’s Barnier warns Britain no such thing as ‘frictionless’ trade


European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michael Barnier.

The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warned British ministers and businesses who are calling for “frictionless trade” with the EU after Britain leaves that that is “not possible”.

Addressing an EU business forum in Brussels on Thursday, Barnier said London’s “red lines” for a future trade relationship meant Britain was definitely leaving the single market and the customs union, while only membership of both permitted the current “frictionless” trading arrangements.

Barnier said, according to remarks prepared for delivery, that he was unsure the EU’s refusal to grant single market access piecemeal and insistence on control of standards in the single market “have been fully understood across the Channel”.

“I have heard some people in the UK argue that one can leave the single market and keep all of its benefits – that is not possible,” he said. “I have heard some people in the UK argue that one can leave the single market and build a customs union to achieve ‘frictionless trade’ – that is not possible.”


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