The European Union will not start talking about a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK until there has been “substantial progress” on how the UK is to leave the union, according to a resolution passed by the European Parliament setting out the negotiating position.
The resolution warns against any trade-off between security and the future EU-UK economic relationship, opposes any sort of cherry picking or a piecemeal economic relationship based on sector-specific deals, and reiterates the indivisibility of the four freedoms of the single market – free movement of goods, capital, services, and people.
Finally, the resolution says that only when “substantial progress” has been made in talks on how the UK is to leave the EU can discussions begin on possible transitional arrangements. These arrangements must not last longer than three years, while an agreement on a future relationship can only be concluded once the UK has left the EU.
The resolution, which was passed by 516 to 33 votes, also notes that it would be a breach of EU law for the UK to negotiate trade agreements with third countries before it left the EU, and warns against the UK engaging in bilateral talks with one or some EU member states on the withdrawal proceedings or the EU-UK future relationship.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, told the plenary session of the parliament: “The UK letter makes clear that the UK Government will push for parallel negotiations on the withdrawal and on the future relationship. This is a very risky approach. To succeed, we need on the contrary to devote the first phase of negotiations exclusively to reaching an agreement on the principles of the exit.
“The sooner we agree on the principles of an orderly withdrawal, the sooner we can prepare our future relationship in trade – a free and fair agreement, and a level playing field – but also in security and defence.”