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‘UK is not Canada’: EU’s Barnier rules out Ottawa-style trade deal for Britain

‘UK is not Canada’: EU’s Barnier rules out Ottawa-style trade deal for Britain

The United Kingdom cannot have a trade deal akin to the one Canada enjoys with the European Union, the bloc’s Brexit negotiator said on Wednesday. Michel Barnier’s statement came as the two sides gear up for fraught talks on a new relationship after Britain’s departure.

The new round of EU-UK talks starts on Monday, and Barnier said the UK had to accept level-playing field guarantees of fair competition to gain “super preferential access” to the EU market of 450 million people, Reuters reports.

“The UK says that it wants Canada. But the problem with that is that the UK is not Canada,” Barnier told an event at the European Parliament. This is because of Britain’s proximity to the EU and the much larger trade volumes it has with the EU than with Canada, he said.

“We are ready to offer the UK super preferential access to our own markets,” Barnier said, adding it would be “unprecedented” for any foreign country. He said the EU would never risk unraveling the single market and that modern trade deals were also about labor, environmental, competition, and other sustainability standards.