Brussels Brexit enforcer warns UK over diplomatic snub

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The EU official tasked with overseeing the post-Brexit cope with the UK has warned that London’s refusal to grant its ambassador full diplomatic standing has stoked concern in European capitals.

Maros Sefcovic advised the Monetary Instances that the snub was “crucial politically” and meant the UK “would deal with the European Union delegation in worse phrases than some other nation on the planet”.

In an additional signal of rising tensions, Mr Sefcovic, a European Fee vice-president, additionally highlighted EU worries concerning the potential for the UK to diverge from bloc guidelines in areas resembling labour rights and pesticide regulation.

Mr Sefcovic would be the EU’s chief consultant on the brand new “partnership council” with the UK that can oversee the future-relationship deal that UK prime minister Boris Johnson struck with Brussels on the finish of final 12 months.

He mentioned the bloc’s international ministers had raised a sequence of questions throughout talks on Monday about future EU-UK relations, together with the spat over diplomatic rights.

Dominic Raab, Britain’s international secretary, has insisted that the EU’s ambassador to London must be seen as representing an “worldwide organisation”, moderately than being handled as a nationwide envoy.

London has insisted that the rights and privileges are comparable, however the EU has warned that the snub is a provocative irritant to future relations — and makes the UK’s coverage distinctive among the many 143 international locations the place the bloc has missions.

“I’m positive that it’s crucial for the UK that their diplomats listed here are correctly handled and have applicable entry, and it’s crucial for us . . . to have the identical in London,” Mr Sefcovic mentioned.

Since formally leaving the EU final January, the UK has had a diplomatic mission in Brussels with the identical standing as these of different international locations all over the world such because the US and Russia.

Mr Sefcovic mentioned the matter was raised by each minister who intervened on the assembly on Brexit. 

“We don’t wish to exaggerate or dramatise the state of affairs however we clearly need our British colleagues and companions to know that this is a matter, which we hope we are going to clear up by means of the discussions,” he mentioned. 

“The UK is aware of fairly properly that we aren’t simply a global organisation,” he added, noting that the bloc represents nationwide governments on a variety of topics. 

UK officers mentioned that discussions with the EU have been ongoing and that the EU illustration could be given the privileges and immunities wanted to carry out its capabilities.

Mr Sekcovic mentioned that international ministers additionally pressed him about doable British strikes to diverge from EU environmental and labour market requirements. 

The FT reported earlier this month that the UK was exploring watering down EU limits on working time. UK enterprise minister Kwasi Kwarteng has since confirmed the federal government is reviewing UK employment regulation, however insisted it will not result in a discount in staff’ rights.

“You already noticed the questions coming from the member states regarding labour rights, regarding pesticides,” Mr Sefcovic mentioned. “There’s the concern, subsequently I believe the fee is being referred to as upon to be very vigilant on all these points and we are going to.”

The EU’s commerce cope with the UK units out a sequence of safeguards, insisted upon by Brussels, to guard firms from unfair competitors. 

The settlement stipulates that neither facet will cut back environmental and labour requirements in place on the finish of final 12 months, when Britain left the one market. There’s additionally a system permitting the EU or UK to introduce tariffs on items if rules diverge an excessive amount of over time. 

The fee vice-president, whose UK counterpart has but to be introduced, mentioned it was necessary that the partnership council now shortly get to work given the quantity of points to be addressed as the brand new buying and selling relationship beds down.

He expects EU-UK relations in 2021 to be “extraordinarily intense”.