The EU chief negotiator Barnier presented on Monday the most comprehensive negotiation mandate (the negotiating directives) ever prepared by the Commission. The 25 pages long text has three main substantive chapters: economic, security and institutional and other horizontal arrangements.
There are several distinct features that makes it stand out in comparison to other free trade negotiation mandates in the past:
- the evolving nature and the possibility of periodical review (para 8 and 143)
- the governing body in charge of overseeing the implementation of the treaty, and with the power to take decisions and recommendations in regard to the evolution of the partnership (para 150)
- the level playing field (LPF) requirements are covered in an own chapter but also referred in the trade-related section, highlighting their importance. LPF requirements, as a condition for the partnership, are justified in the draft mandate by the “geographic proximity and economic interdependence” of the EU and UK. The areas covered by the LPF requirements are (para 89): state aid, competition, social and employment standards, environmental standards etc. The LPF requirements are supposed to evolve over time and the governing body will be in charge of modifying and extending them.
- a ratchet clause has also been included to prevent both Parties from lowering high standards and the level of protection in the following areas: carbon pricing, labour and social protection, environment (para 105)
The negotiating directives will be discussed by the Member States in the Council configurations and are expected to be adopted on 25 February at the General Affairs Council.
EU Commission, communication on the negotiating directives
Video of the chief negotiator Barnier
Full statement of the chief negotiator Barnier