EU Member States approved a tighter negotiation mandate on a new partnership agreement with the UK. The level playing field (LPF) requirements have been strengthened, which the European Parliament also asked for in its last resolution. LPF is now going well beyond the Commission’s proposal, which only required that non-regression from environmental and employment standards is in place by end of 2020. Barnier warned in a press conference that the EU will not go for a deal at any price and will firmly stick to the mandate’s conditions as well as to the general principles agreed with British counterparts in the Political Declaration.
While the negotiating directives stay in large part the same, there are five new paragraphs added (11, 33, 46, 58 and 78) and multiple adjustments in different parts of the mandate. According to newly added paragraph 11, “the negotiations will be conducted in a way to ensure parallelism among the various sectoral tracks of the negotiation”.
The chapter on the level playing field (LPF) has been strengthened at the request of France. There is a temporal dimension which has been added: the LPF must “stand the test of time” (paragraph 10), “last over time” (paragraph 94) which has echoes of dynamic alignment. This LPF temporal conditionality aims to ensure a sustainable and long-lasting relationship between the Parties. The EU standards are mentioned as a point of reference for the LPF. The enforcement side has also been strengthened, as the text now says that each area included in the LPF should have an adequate mechanism for implementation.