Boris Johnson needs to “remember” the promises he made in the Political Declaration that was part of last year’s Brexit deal, if he wants to avoid a failure of trade talks, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said Sunday.
Speaking ahead of a final round of negotiations before a “stock take” in June, Barnier told the Sunday Times that London needed to “show more realism” if it wanted a deal.
That meant Johnson should honor the “commitments” on maintaining a level playing field with the EU and fisheries access that he entered into when he signed the Political Declaration. The document set out goals for the future relationship between the U.K. and EU but unlike the Withdrawal Agreement it is not legally binding.
“We remember very clearly the text which we negotiated with Boris Johnson. And we just want to see that complied with. To the letter… And if that doesn’t happen, there will be no agreement,” said Barnier.
Barnier said the contours of a trade deal had been clear to both sides.
“The U.K. has been taking a step back — two steps back, three steps back — from the original commitments. The U.K. negotiators need to be fully in line with what the prime minister signed up to with us. Because 27 heads of state and government and the European parliament do not have a short memory,” he said.
“So this is a question of translating political commitments, which were taken together with Boris Johnson, translating them into a legal text — no more, no less.”
This came as the Social Market Foundation think tank released a report commissioned by the Best for Britain group, warning of a profound economic impact of ending the transition period on December 31 without a trade deal in place combined with the effects of the coronavirus crisis.
“If a deal is not secured, and trade becomes subject to WTO terms, the economic impact is likely to be more severe,” the report reads. It says that the North West, West Midlands and East of England will suffer a “disproportionately severe double impact.”
Want more analysis from POLITICO? POLITICO Pro is our premium intelligence service for professionals. From financial services to trade, technology, cybersecurity and more, Pro delivers real time intelligence, deep insight and breaking scoops you need to keep one step ahead. Email email@example.com to request a complimentary trial.