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'Frictionless' Brexit an impossibility, says Barnier
March 23 2018, 10:55 | Irvin Gilbert
Barnier said he was not sure the British people understood that there could be no free trade without the free movement of people.
At a speech at the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels, Mr Barnier said that after Brexit the United Kingdom will become "a third country" and that businesses should prepare for the uncertainty.
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Ensuring a perfectly smooth Brexit will be a significant challenge, chief European Union negotiator to the United Kingdom has stated, while highlighting the need to achieve some form of trade deal as soon as possible.
He added that Britain could not expect to cherry-pick its ties with the European Union as many British politicians say it should.
Barnier explained that a "frictionless trade" would only be possible with "the combination of the customs union and the rules of the internal market".
In response to questions on financial services Barnier said that United Kingdom financial institutions would lose passporting rights as a result of this choice.
Asked about the comments, the spokesman told reporters: "We've set out our relationship that we seek ... we want a comprehensive free trade agreement and a new customs agreement which allows for trade which is as frictionless as possible".
The French politician said he was ready for the talks to fail, but said "no deal" would be damaging, especially for Britain, and saw "no reasonable justification" for it.
He reluctantly put his name to the Remain side in the referendum and fired some lawmakers who backed an amendment in Parliament calling on the government to keep open the option of staying in the bloc's single market and customs union.
He went on, "In reality the "no deal" scenario would aggravate the lose/lose situation, which is a necessary effect of Brexit". Mr Barnier makes a point today of spelling out that the first phase negotiation topics must be settled "together" (underlined) suggesting he sniffed slippage in the chat with the Brexit Secretary on that.
He also insisted that his job was to "limit the cost of Brexit for the 27 as much as possible".
Brexit Secretary David Davis has suggested Britain will walk away from negotiations if the European Union refuses to offer "free and frictionless trade". But Mr Barnier said that, while it would be a "lose-lose situation" for both sides if no deal was reached, there appeared to be a misunderstanding on the British side over a belief that the country could retain all the benefits of membership after Brexit.
As negotiations will start more than three months after May triggered the 2-year negotiating period, Barnier also warned that "time flies" until 29 March 2019, when Brexit will happen automatically.