'Frictionless' Brexit an impossibility, says Barnier

Chief EU negotiator to the UK has stated that ensuring a perfectly smooth Brexit will be a significant challenge, while highlighting the need to achieve some form of trade deal as soon as possible.

\'Frictionless\' Brexit an impossibility, says Barnier
The UK will not be able to achieve its aim of a "frictionless" Brexit unless it remains in the single market and customs union, and allows the free movement of EU citizens, the European Commission's chief negotiator has stated.

Not a punishment for Britain says the EU 

Speaking to the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels, Michel Barnier said that while the EU was not seeking to punish Britain for its referendum vote last year to leave the bloc, there would inevitably be "negative" consequences.Brexit Secretary David Davis said recently that he hoped to achieve a trade deal with the remaining EU members that would deliver "exactly the same benefits" as those the UK currently enjoys.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.Mr Barnier said that the commission had made it clear to the UK government that there could be no sector-by-sector participation in the free market and that the EU's "four freedoms" – including freedom of movement – were indivisible.
 Find out more about post-Brexit trade deals:
"These points were already made very clear by the European Council and European Parliament, but I am not sure whether they have been fully understood across the Channel," said Mr Barnier. He continued, "I have heard some people in the UK argue that one can leave the single market and keep all of its benefits. That is not possible."I have heard some people in the UK argue that one can leave the single market and build a customs union to achieve frictionless trade. That is not possible. "The decision to leave the EU has consequences and I have to explain to citizens, businesses and civil society on both sides of the Channel what those consequences mean for them."These consequences are the direct result of the choice made by the UK, not by the EU. There is no punishment for Brexit and of course no spirit of revenge. But Brexit has a cost, also for business in the EU27, and businesses should assess with lucidity the negative consequences of the UK choice on trade and investment and prepare to manage that."

Britain and the EU must avoid a no deal situation

Mr Barnier added that failure to reach a Brexit trade deal would mean "a return to the distant past", with trade regulated by World Trade Organisation rules which would impose tariffs on goods."No deal would worsen the loser-loser situation which will necessarily be the result of Brexit and, objectively, the UK would have rather more to lose than its partners," he said.Mr Barnier added, "There is no reasonable justification for a 'no deal' scenario. There is no reason further to worsen the consequences of Brexit."
Read David Sapsted's article on Establishing Right to Remain – which discusses the uncertainty over immigration which the UK faces following Brexit – in the Summer 2017 issue of Relocate Magazine.
For related news and features, visit our Brexit section.

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