November 26, 2019 / 9:49 PM / 15 days ago

Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier to prioritize UK trade deal post-Brexit: Financial Times

FILE PHOTO: The European Union's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier looks on as he addresses the European Economic and Social Committee, at the EU Parliament in Brussels, Belgium October 30, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

(Reuters) - The European Union's Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has told EU politicians he will make Britain's new trade deal with the EU a priority after Brexit, the Financial Times reported here citing people briefed on a closed-door meeting in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

In the meeting, while addressing members of the European Parliament, Barnier said the 11 months from Britain’s planned EU exit on Jan. 31 until the end of its transition period would normally not be enough to negotiate a trade agreement, the newspaper reported.

But he added that Brussels will strive to have a deal in place for the end of 2020, according to the report.

Barnier also said issues beyond the scope of the trade pact, such as concluding an agreement on road freight and aircraft takeoff and landing rights, could take longer, with the option for Brussels to take contingency measures to prevent economic disruption if talks were to continue past the end of 2020, the report said.

Barnier said cooperation with the UK on security and defense was also a top priority for the EU in the talks, according to the FT.

Barnier’s reported remarks follow his comments earlier this month when he said negotiations on a future trading relationship with Britain would be “difficult and demanding,” as the bloc “will not tolerate unfair competitive advantage”.

Reporting by Anurag Maan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sandra Maler and Tom Brown

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