One of the biggest areas of divergence throughout the Brexit negotiations has been the EU’s insistence over what it calls the level playing field. A level playing field is whereby businesses in both states sign up to certain rules and standards in order to stop one from undercutting the other. Although the Prime Minister has insisted Britain cannot be aligned to the EU in any way post Brexit, MPs on the Future Relationship with the European Union Committee have demanded Mr Johnson should sign up to fair competition rules with Brussels.
In the report published today, the MPs said: “The UK’s and EU’s respective red lines make it difficult to find common ground on ‘level playing field’ issues.
“We urge the parties to look for a solution that takes as its starting point the de facto alignment of the UK and the EU when it comes to current rules and standards, and explore how the UK and the EU could be given access to their respective markets on the basis that if either side moves away from these standards, or acts in a way that one side believes gives the other an unfair competitive advantage, then that access could be varied.”
The committee also stated there should be a trade off between the level playing field and access to the single market for UK financial services.
If the UK were to lower its standards beyond the EU benchmark, financial services should then accept a drop in the accessibility to the single market.
An independent committee could also be created in order to determine whether a change in regulations gave rise to an unfair advantage and if any EU actions was reasonable.
With the coronavirus pandemic expected to cripple the UK economy, former Labour Brexit Secretary Hilary Benn and the chair of the committee concluded more flexibility must now be shown to ensure a deal is made.
The MP for Leeds Central said: “COVID-19 has understandably dominated the efforts of political leaders in Europe since March, but negotiations with the EU remain critically important to the UK’s economic future.
“Whilst both sets of negotiators have worked hard in challenging circumstances, it has become increasingly clear that political leadership is needed if an agreement is to be reached in time to prevent the UK leaving the transition period on December 31, 2020, without an agreement.
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As it stands, the transition period is set to end on December 31, 2020.
Either side could have requested an extension but following a meeting this week between UK and EU officials, both parties agreed it would not be needed.
While an extension will not be requested, both sides insisted negotiations must be expedited over the next few months.
Mr Johnson has even stated his belief that a deal could be reached as soon as July.
EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen announced to the EU Parliament this week where she concluded both sides would need to find “creative” solutions to come to an agreement.
However, she insisted the issue of fair competition could not be dropped.
She added: “It cannot be a downward competition.
“Just think of labour standards or environmental protection.
“It should be a shared interest for the European Union and the UK to never slide backwards and always advance together towards higher standards.”