Top EU Commissioner Warns That UK Will Be At The Back Of The Queue For A Trade Deal

In order to give enough time for officials to negotiate a trade deal, Brexit talks need to move fast even though it is a “very difficult process”, a top-ranking member of the European Commission reportedly told a section of the media.

The U.K. would just make another name on that list and the EU is having trade talks with 21 different jurisdictions, said Jyrki Katainen, who is the vice president for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness. Thus, to prepare a new trade arrangement, there is need to sped up the current discussions on how the U.K. will leave the Union.

“It’s difficult to estimate anything at this stage but the faster we can settle the financial issues, people’s rights issues and border issues – which are rather concrete even though they are very complicated – the faster we can start negotiating our future relationship,” he said in an interview in Brussels where the U.K. and EU negotiating teams are concluding the second round of talks this week.

How the U.K.-Irish border will operate, the rights of EU citizens living in the U.K. and vice-versa, and how much the U.K. needs to pay to close its accounts with the EU, are the three key topics at the moment that the negotiators are focused on. Both teams will fix these issues by October, suggests the calendar. And a decision on what kind of partnership they want to have in the future would be taken only after that.

“Everything depends on the future design of our cooperation,” according to Katainen, who’s responsible for boosting investment in Europe. He added that this would include the survival of the European financial services industry.

“We really don’t know what will be the consequences,” Katainen said when asked about the impact on the European economy if the City of London becomes fragmented.

“Nevertheless, we are so interlinked, our interests are so interlinked that it’s better to find a good solution, that’s why we should have enough time for negotiations on the future arrangement,” Katainen added.

According to the EU commissioner, Brexit hasn’t just been a negative for Europe. In order to improve the European project, there’s a new impetus across member states, Katainen said.

“Because of Brexit, because of (the) Marine Le Pen type of phenomena, because of rule of law problems in Poland, because of (President Donald) Trump, because of fake news, because of all these things around we have seen a wakeup call,” he said.

Key EU officials have sparked a debate on how the economic and political union should evolve and the Union is seemingly pushing for more integration since the U.K.’s vote to leave the EU last year.

However, with many blaming the EU for being too slow, it remains to be seen how much of this new impetus will have a tangible effect.

“Europe is going to be a much better market, a much more prosperous market than it’s been so far. If you add all the trade agreements that we are negotiating, the EU will be more intra-traded, easier to understand and a better market for EU companies but also third country companies. So I’m very glad that there’s been sincere counter reaction from (the) citizens’ side, from governments’ side to haul those negative phenomena we’ve seen,” Katainen said.

(Adapted from CNBC)

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