Future EU-UK partnership must guarantee frictionless trade

by Hans Diederichs

With negotiations on the future of the EU and UK relationship beginning this week, the European Steel Association (EUROFER) urges both sides to reach as comprehensive an agreement as possible. The European steel industry, its suppliers and downstream users need frictionless trade in a stable environment, mutual market access, a level playing field between competitors and reciprocity in the treatment of regulation, firms, products and staff.

“We welcome the official start of the negotiations, given the importance of protecting the prosperity of citizens and businesses on both sides of the channel”, said Axel Eggert, Director General of EUROFER. “While each side rightly wants to defend its regulatory autonomy, a deal that ensures EU and UK trade interactions are fair, reciprocal and frictionless is essential”, emphasised Mr Eggert.

Maintaining a level playing field and reciprocity should be the leading principles of the negotiations for both sides. EUROFER hopes the EU and UK will agree on solutions that ensure the continuity of the logistical procedures involved in the movement of goods between the two countries. Mutual market access, as well as alignment of standards on state aid, competition policy, state-owned enterprises, employment, environment, climate change, relevant tax matters and other regulatory measures and practices, is vital.

On 25 February the EU released its negotiating mandate, with the UK doing the same two days later. During the current transition period, nothing changes in terms of the UK’s trading relationship with the EU. The EU and UK can agree on an extension but must do so by 1 July – otherwise, the transition ends on 31 December 2020 even if there is no agreement reached.

“No deal would be the worst possible outcome – erecting barriers to trade overnight that would be needlessly damaging”, concluded Mr Eggert.

Source: Eurofer                 Photo: worldsteel

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