Skip to main Content

European Commission: Speech By Michel Barnier At The Closing Session Of Eurochambre's European Parliament Of Enterprises 2018

Mr President, my dear Christoph LEITL,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Firstly, I would like to welcome you, in the diversity of your responsibilities, your enterprises and your countries.

It is a great opportunity to be able to gather you here, at the heart of European democracy that is the European Parliament. I would like to thank Eurochambres and all of you for having taken the time to come and share your ideas on the functioning of Europe and the direction it should take.

This is the right time for it!

Our European Union needs to listen to and take into account the views of entrepreneurs and business leaders, in all their diversity.

And the subjects discussed today show clearly what the added value of ambitious action at European level can be, for your enterprises and for European citizens.

To increase our competitiveness and address the challenge of skills through training, mobility, the integration of migrants, the fight against youth unemployment.

To find new markets through trade and investment agreements – Cecilia Malmström has spoken to you about this – which must benefit our SMEs and create jobs, while encouraging sustainable development.

To invest together in the technologies of the future and deepen our single market to adapt it to the new digital realities.

These are examples of positive projects, which correspond to the commitments and initiatives – I am thinking of the Juncker Plan – undertaken by the European Commission.

It is on these subjects that the EU-27 must focus in order to build a stronger Union, on the basis of what, in my view, is our main asset, our main capital – our single market, that ecosystem of standards, certifications, rights, regulations, supervision and jurisdiction that we have constructed together and on which we worked hard together when I was the Commissioner responsible for the single market. I am thinking, for example, of the simplification of public procurement, and the European patent.

It is also for this positive agenda, an agenda of progress for Europe and Europeans, that the unity we have built between the 27 Member States and the European Parliament in this negotiation with the UK must be useful.

By setting our course for the medium and long term, we will address together the challenges facing Europe on the economic, industrial, technological, geopolitical, ecological and demographic fronts.

The challenges facing us today obviously include Brexit, which is raising concerns for many entrepreneurs and enterprises, as well as numerous citizens and communities.

In view of this concern, I would like to tell you clearly where we are now, and what remains to be done to reach an agreement on an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom.

*

Ladies and gentlemen,

On 29 March 2019, in less than 6 months, the UK will leave the European Union.

We have always respected the UK's sovereign decision to leave the European Union, even if we profoundly regret this vote We respect its decision to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union.

And we are doing our best to reach a deal on the UK's orderly withdrawal.

Since the beginning of this negotiation, we have made good progress.

In fact, as you can see in this copy of the draft Treaty, 80 to 85 % of the Withdrawal Agreement has now been agreed with the UK.

However, some difficult issues have been left until the end.

We must agree on the governance of the Withdrawal Agreement and on geographical indications that are currently protected in the 28 EU Member States.

Above all, we need to agree on how to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland for political, human, and economic reasons.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The UK wants to and will leave the Single Market and the Customs Union.

This means that there must be checks on goods travelling between the EU and the UK – checks that do not exist today:

  •        customs and VAT checks;
  •        and compliance checks with our standards to protect our consumers, our economic traders and your businesses.

We have agreed with the UK that these checks cannot be performed at the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

A crucial question is, therefore, where they will take place.

The EU is committed to respecting the territorial integrity and constitutional order of the UK, just like the UK has committed to respecting the integrity of our Single Market, including Ireland, obviously.

Therefore, the EU proposes to carry out these checks in the least intrusive way possible.

For customs and VAT checks, we propose using the existing customs transit procedures to avoid doing checks at a physical border point. To be more specific:

o   Companies in the rest of the UK would fill in their customs declarations online and in advance when shipping goods to Northern Ireland.

o   The only visible systematic checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK would involve scanning the bar codes of the lorries or containers, which could be done on ferries or in transit ports.

o   These arrangements already exist within EU Member States, in particular those with islands, for example between mainland Spain and the Canary Islands.

For regulatory checks, on industrial goods for instance, these could be carried out by market surveillance authorities.

o   Again, this would not need to happen at a border but directly in the market or at the premises of companies in Northern Ireland.

This leaves the health and phytosanitary checks for live animals and products of animal origin. EU rules are clear: such checks must happen at the border because of food safety and animal health reasons. And obviously, in the future the island of Ireland will and must remain a single epidemiologic area.

o   Such checks already exist in the ports of Larne and Belfast.

o   However they would have to cover 100 % rather than 10 % of live animals and animal-derived products, which would involve a significant change in terms of scale.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Both the EU and the UK exclude having a physical border on the island of Ireland. Therefore what will arrive into Northern Ireland will also be arriving into the Single Market.

There will be administrative procedures that do not exist today for goods travelling to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. Our challenge is to make sure those procedures are as easy as possible and not too burdensome, in particular for smaller businesses.

I understand why such procedures are politically sensitive, but let me make three remarks.

First, Brexit was not our choice. It is the choice of the UK. Our proposal tries to help the UK in managing the negative fall-out of Brexit in Northern Ireland, in a way that respects the territorial integrity of the UK.

Second, our proposal limits itself to what is absolutely necessary to avoid a hard border: customs procedures and the respect of EU standards for products.

It does not include measures on free movement of people, services, healthcare or social and environmental policy. But the Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland will continue as today.

And yet, our proposal gives Northern Ireland benefits that no part of a third country enjoys. In particular continued access to the Single Market for goods and continued benefits from the EU free trade agreements.

Our proposal also includes the continuation of the island's Single Electricity Market, as requested by the UK.

Over the past week, we have met the leaders of all Northern Irish political parties – many of whom I have met before, and many of whom I will meet again. My door is always open. And my team met on Monday a group of Northern Irish business leaders and a group representing local government.

Naturally, there were questions, doubts and worries about our proposal – and Brexit in general.

But most conversations focused on the added value for Northern Ireland so long as we can mitigate the burden of doing checks.

Third, our proposal is just a safety net, a "backstop".

It is needed because the details of the future relationship will only be negotiated after the UK's withdrawal.

But the future relation in itself might mitigate the necessary checks, or even make some unnecessary:

o   For instance, a veterinary agreement would mean less frequent inspections of live animals.

o   And we are still open to the idea of having a customs union with the UK. Such a customs union would eliminate an important part of custom checks.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Apart from the issue of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the Withdrawal Agreement will include other important issues, on which we already agreed with the UK.

These issues are important for your businesses, your employees and your regions.

In particular, we already agreed that:

  •        European citizens who arrived in the UK before the end of 2020 and British citizens who moved to other EU countries before that date can continue to live their lives as before. We remain in close contact with the organisations representing the citizens concerned, most notably to discuss the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement.
  •        All financial commitments undertaken by the 28 EU Member States will be honoured by the 28, for instance on the European Social Fund and the regional policy. All current programmes will continue, with the UKs participation.
  •        The UK will retain all the rights and obligations of a Member State for a transition period, until the end of 2020, at its request.

o   This will leave time for businesses to prepare.

o   And this will leave time to finalise the future relationship.

To be clear, all these points will enter into force on the condition that we agree on the whole Withdrawal Agreement, which must then be ratified, I hope in the beginning of next year by the UK and by the European Parliament.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Looking beyond a difficult separation, which we hope will be an orderly one, the most important matter, in the common interest of our countries and of economic stability and growth, will be our future relationship with the United Kingdom.

We must now define the outline, the framework and the parameters of that future relationship.       

To be clear, once the UK has left the Union the future relationship will be the subject of a new negotiation, in fact several negotiations – undoubtedly about ten parallel negotiating tables – during the transition period, until the end of 2020.

In parallel with the withdrawal agreement, we are therefore working with the UK on a joint political declaration that will describe this future relationship.

Last March, the EU-27 Heads of State or Government, with the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and the President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, clearly expressed the wish for a very ambitious partnership with the UK for the future. This ambition is shared by the European Parliament and its President, Antonio TAJANI.

Obviously, in our discussions with the United Kingdom, we are taking on board the positions set out in the UK's July White Paper. Since July, we have discussed all the chapters of that White Paper with the UK negotiators at both the technical and political level.

This White Paper is useful, as it allows us to benchmark our proposals against the UK proposals and identify points of convergence. We have found many such points. For example:

  •        In the area of internal security, foreign policy and military cooperation.
  •        In numerous areas of sectoral cooperation, for instance in aviation and transport.
  •        In the United Kingdom's participation in Union programmes, for example research programmes, where we will be willing to use all the tools at our disposal for our relations with non‑EU countries in the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework.
  •        In areas where we are willing to look at recourse to unilateral equivalence or adequacy decisions. I am thinking for example of financial services and data protection.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With regard to our future economic partnership, however, certain UK positions set out in the White Paper do not correspond to the European Council's guidelines or to my mandate.

We agree that our future relationship is to be based on a free trade area without tariffs or quotas. This is a very important point.

But we have two points of divergence with the UK proposals, since these two points clearly contradict the foundations of our single market.

First, with regard to customs:

  •        The United Kingdom would like to preserve an autonomous trade policy, and be able to negotiate its own agreements, while remaining in our customs area.

o   This means that it could apply lower tariffs than ours while remaining in a single market for goods with us. From our standpoint, this could cause a serious risk of distortion of trade flows, to the detriment of our enterprises.

  •        The United Kingdom would like to apply its own external tariffs while collecting European customs duties for us.

o   This would mean the Union losing control over the collection of tax revenue, whether customs duties for the European budget or VAT revenue for the Member States.

  •        We know that the United Kingdom wishes to take back control of its borders, its policies and its money and we respect this choice. But the British Government must in turn accept that we need to retain control over our customs borders.

Another point of divergence concerns the regulatory framework for goods:

  •        The United Kingdom has asked to be aligned with many – but not all - of our standards for goods, so that it can preserve its current participation in our internal market for those goods alone.
  •        At the same time, the UK wants to remain free to diverge from the set of regulations governing the factors of production of these goods, whether it be services, labour, capital or social and environmental rules.

All of us here understand that such a system of single market ‘à la carte' would be tantamount to providing the United Kingdom and its companies with a major competitive advantage over companies operating in the single market.

Let's take two examples:

  •        On the regulatory cost of chemical products:

o   31 % of the regulatory price – I'm not talking about raw materials – is linked to compliance with product standards, which, in any case, all exporters must respect in order to enter our market. An example is the REACH regulation.

o   The remainder, 69 %, covers compliance with other Union regulations, such as environmental rules. It's on these regulations that the UK would like to be able to diverge from us. For steel, the figures are even more eloquent.

And, as you know well, in certain economic sectors where the margins are low, minor divergences in regulations can create a significant competitive advantage for the UK if it remains in the single market for goods while diverging for all the rest.

This is why many business leaders, including here in Eurochambres, have asked us clearly, in all the countries of the Union, not to do anything in this negotiation to weaken the internal market – which, after Brexit, will still represent 60 %, in some cases more, of our trade. And the survey you have just done shows clearly your commitment to that internal market.

We have therefore proposed to the UK, taking into account our principles and the UK's red lines, an economic partnership founded on an ambitious free trade agreement, doubtless accompanied by a customs cooperation, a regulatory cooperation, and also a level playing field commensurate with such a free trade agreement.

It is this partnership that we wish to outline in our joint political declaration with the UK and that will be the basis of our future economic relationship.

Nothing will prevent us from enriching this economic relationship in the course of the negotiations, provided that our principles are respected.

*

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The negotiations with the United Kingdom are being conducted intensively this week, day and night, with the objective set by the leaders of the 27 Member States that the agreement be within reach at the time of the European Council on 17-18 October, next Wednesday!

In this way we will try to maximise the chances of an orderly withdrawal and minimise the costs of Brexit for our enterprises.

In the event of no deal, these costs would be very high, firstly for the UK but also for some sectors of our economy. That is why ‘no deal' is not, and has never been, our scenario – even if our responsibility is to be prepared for all options.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to be sincere with you: even in the event of an agreement, there will be adjustments for many of your companies as a result of the UK's decision. It can't be business as usual.

To help your enterprises to address these adjustments, the European Commission has published over 70 Brexit preparedness notices. These notices concern numerous economic sectors, from e-commerce to maritime transport, the energy market and financial services. I would like to thank Eurochambres and its members for your support for this preparation. The Task Force that I head is at your disposal.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to conclude on a more personal note in my capacity as the person in charge of this negotiation, under the control of the European leaders and the European Parliament.

I would like to tell you what I think, as someone who voted for the first time, in his country, in 1972, in favour of the UK joining the European Union.

I campaigned for the Yes vote and I have never regretted that vote, because I believe in strength through unity. I believed then – and it is still more true today – that it was better to be together to secure respect and defend our interests and values.

I believe that Brexit has no added value. It is a negotiation with no positive outcome, a lose-lose game.

Its result is important for the future of Europe, beyond our relationship with the UK.

On our side, we will try to reach an agreement that is the fairest and the most precise on the separation and the most ambitious for the future, while defending the rights of European citizens and enterprises and preserving the foundations of the European project.

To achieve this, I will continue to conduct this negotiation to the end on behalf of the Union and respecting the principles set out by European leaders and the European Parliament from the very first day after the referendum. 

I will continue to do this calmly, without any aggressiveness, with a lot of respect for a great country that will remain, in any case, our ally and our partner.

Thank you very much for your attention.

 

 

*** AS DELIVERED ***

Monsieur le Président, cher Christoph LEITL,

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Je voudrais vous saluer, dans la diversité de vos responsabilités, de vos entreprises, de vos pays.

C'est une chance de pouvoir vous réunir ici, dans ce cœur de la démocratie européenne qu'est le Parlement européen, et je voudrais remercier Eurochambres et chacune et chacun d'entre vous d'avoir pris le temps de venir partager vos idées sur le fonctionnement de l'Europe et la direction qu'elle doit prendre.

C'est le moment !

Notre Union européenne a besoin d'écouter et de tenir compte du point de vue des entrepreneurs et chefs d'entreprise, dans toute leur diversité.

Et les sujets discutés aujourd'hui montrent bien quelle peut être la valeur ajoutée d'une action ambitieuse au niveau européen, pour vos entreprises comme pour les citoyens européens.

Pour accroître notre compétitivité et relever le défi des compétences à travers la formation, la mobilité, l'intégration des migrants, la lutte contre le chômage des jeunes.

Pour trouver de nouveaux marchés, à travers des accords commerciaux et d'investissement – Cecilia Malmström vous en a parlé – qui doivent bénéficier aussi à nos PME et créer des emplois, tout en encourageant un développement durable.

Pour investir ensemble dans les technologies du futur et approfondir notre marché unique pour l'adapter aux nouvelles réalités numériques.

Voilà des exemples de projets positifs, qui correspondent aux engagements et aux initiatives – je pense au Plan Juncker – engagés par la Commission européenne.

C'est sur ces sujets que les 27 doivent se concentrer pour bâtir une Union plus forte, en s'appuyant sur ce qui constitue à mes yeux notre principal atout, notre principal capital, qui est notre marché unique, cet écosystème de normes, de standards, de certifications, de droits, de régulations, de supervision et de juridiction que nous avons construit ensemble, et pour lequel nous avons beaucoup travaillé ensemble lorsque j'étais Commissaire en charge du marché unique. Je pense par exemple à la simplification des marchés publics ou au brevet européen.

C'est aussi à cet agenda positif, de progrès pour l'Europe et les Européens, que doit être utile l'unité que nous avons construite entre les 27 Etats membres et le Parlement européen dans cette négociation avec le Royaume-Uni.

En fixant un cap à moyen et long terme, nous relèverons ensemble les défis auxquels l'Europe fait face, sur le plan économique, industriel, technologique, géopolitique, écologique, démographique.

Parmi les défis d'aujourd'hui, il y a évidemment le Brexit, qui fait naître une inquiétude pour beaucoup d'entrepreneurs et d'entreprises, comme pour de nombreux citoyens et collectivités.

Face à cette inquiétude, je voudrais vous dire clairement où nous en sommes, et ce qu'il reste à faire pour trouver un accord sur un retrait ordonné du Royaume-Uni.

*

Ladies and gentlemen,

On 29 March 2019, in less than 6 months, the UK will leave the European Union.

We have always respected the UK's sovereign decision to leave the European Union, even if we profoundly regret this vote We respect its decision to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union.

And we are doing our best to reach a deal on the UK's orderly withdrawal.

Since the beginning of this negotiation, we have made good progress.

In fact, as you can see in this copy of the draft Treaty, a lot of the Withdrawal Agreement – 80%-85% – has now been agreed with the UK.

However, some difficult issues have been left until the end.

We must agree on the governance of the Withdrawal Agreement and on geographical indications that are currently protected in the 28 EU Member States.

Above all, we need to agree on how to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland for political, human, and economic reasons.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The UK wants to and will leave the Single Market and the Customs Union.

This means that there must be checks on goods travelling between the EU and the UK – checks that do not exist today:

  •        customs and VAT checks;
  •        and compliance checks with our standards to protect our consumers, our economic traders and your businesses.

We have agreed with the UK that these checks cannot be performed at the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

A crucial question is, therefore, where they will take place.

The EU is committed to respecting the territorial integrity and constitutional order of the UK, just like the UK has committed to respecting the integrity of our Single Market, including Ireland, obviously.

Therefore, the EU proposes to carry out these checks in the least intrusive way possible.

For customs and VAT checks, we propose using the existing customs transit procedures to avoid doing checks at a physical border point. To be more specific:

o   Companies in the rest of the UK would fill in their customs declarations online and in advance when shipping goods to Northern Ireland.

o   The only visible systematic checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK would involve scanning the bar codes of the lorries or containers, which could be done on ferries or in transit ports.

o   These arrangements already exist within EU Member States, in particular those with islands, for example between mainland Spain and the Canary Islands.

For regulatory checks, on industrial goods for instance, these could be carried out by market surveillance authorities.

Again, this would not need to happen at a border but directly in the market or at the premises of companies in Northern Ireland.

This leaves the health and phytosanitary checks for live animals and products of animal origin. EU rules are clear: such checks must happen at the border because of food safety and animal health reasons. And obviously, in the future the island of Ireland will and must remain a single epidemiologic area.

o   Such checks already exist in the ports of Larne and Belfast.

o   However they would have to cover 100 % rather than 10 % of live animals and animal-derived products, which would involve a significant change in terms of scale.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Both the EU and the UK exclude having a physical border on the island of Ireland. Therefore what will arrive into Northern Ireland will also be arriving into the Single Market.

There will be administrative procedures that do not exist today for goods travelling to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. Our challenge is to make sure those procedures are as easy as possible and not too burdensome, in particular for smaller businesses.

I understand why such procedures are politically sensitive, but let me make three remarks.

First, Brexit was not our choice. It is the choice of the UK. Our proposal tries to help the UK in managing the negative fall-out of Brexit in Northern Ireland, in a way that respects the territorial integrity of the UK.

Second, our proposal limits itself to what is absolutely necessary to avoid a hard border: customs procedures and the respect of EU standards for products.

It does not include measures on free movement of people, services, healthcare or social and environmental policy.  But the Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland will continue as today.

And yet, our proposal gives Northern Ireland benefits that no part of a third country enjoys. In particular continued access to the Single Market for goods and continued benefits from the EU free trade agreements.

Our proposal also includes the continuation of the island's Single Electricity Market, as requested by the UK.

Over the past week, we have met the leaders of all Northern Irish political parties – many of whom I have met before, and many of whom I will meet again. My door is always open. And my team met on Monday a group of Northern Irish business leaders and a group representing local government.

Naturally, there were questions, doubts and worries about our proposal – and Brexit in general.

But most conversations focused on the added value for Northern Ireland so long as we can mitigate the burden of doing checks.

Third, our proposal is just a safety net, a "backstop".

It is needed because the details of the future relationship will only be negotiated after the UK's withdrawal.

But the future relation in itself might mitigate the necessary checks, or even make some unnecessary:

o   For instance, a veterinary agreement would mean less frequent inspections of live animals.

o   And we are still open to the idea of having a customs union with the UK. Such a customs union would eliminate an important part of custom checks.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Apart from the issue of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the Withdrawal Agreement will include other important issues, on which we already agreed with the UK.

These issues are important for your businesses, your employees and your regions.

In particular, we already agreed that:

European citizens who arrived in the UK before the end of 2020 and British citizens who moved to other EU countries before that date can continue to live their lives as before. We remain in close contact with the organisations representing the citizens concerned, most notably to discuss the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement.

All financial commitments undertaken by the 28 EU Member States will be honoured by the 28, for instance on the European Social Fund and the regional policy. All current programmes will continue, with the UKs participation.

The UK will retain all the rights and obligations of a Member State for a transition period, until the end of 2020, at its request.

This will leave time for businesses to prepare.

And this will leave time to finalise the future relationship.

To be clear, all these points will enter into force on the condition that we agree on the whole Withdrawal Agreement, which must then be ratified, I hope in the beginning of next year by the UK and by the European Parliament.

*

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Au-delà d'une séparation toujours difficile et que nous souhaitons ordonnée, le plus important, dans l'intérêt commun de nos pays, de la stabilité économique, de la croissance, ce sera notre futur partenariat avec le Royaume-Uni.

Cette future relation, nous devons en définir maintenant les contours, le cadre et les paramètres.

Pour être clair, c'est ensuite, une fois le Royaume-Uni sorti de l'Union, que la future relation fera l'objet d'une nouvelle négociation, en fait de plusieurs négociations, sans doute une dizaine de tables de négociation parallèle, pendant la période de transition, jusqu'à la fin 2020.

Nous travaillons donc avec les Britanniques, en parallèle de l'accord de retrait, à une déclaration politique conjointe qui décrira le cadre de cette future relation.

Au mois de mars dernier, les chefs d'Etat et de gouvernement des 27, avec le Président du Conseil européen Donald Tusk et le Président de la Commission Jean-Claude Juncker ont clairement exprimé la volonté d'un partenariat très ambitieux avec le Royaume-Uni pour l'avenir. Cette ambition est partagée par le Parlement européen et son Président Antonio TAJANI.

Dans nos discussions avec le Royaume-Uni, nous tenons évidemment compte des positions exprimées dans le White Paper britannique du mois de juillet. Depuis juillet, nous en avons d'ailleurs discuté tous les chapitres avec les négociateurs britanniques, au niveau technique et politique.

Ce White Paper est utile, puisqu'il nous permet de faire ce benchmarking entre nos propositions et les propositions britanniques et d'identifier des points de convergence. Nous en avons trouvé beaucoup. Par exemple :

  •        dans le domaine de la sécurité intérieure, de la politique étrangère et de la coopération militaire.
  •        sur les nombreuses coopérations sectorielles, par exemple en matière d'aviation et de transport.
  •        sur  la participation du Royaume-Uni aux programmes de l'Union, par exemple en matière de recherche, où nous serons prêts à utiliser tous les outils dont nous disposerons pour nos relations avec des pays tiers dans le cadre financier 2021-2027.
  •        sur les domaines où nous sommes prêts à examiner le recours à des décisions unilatérales d'équivalence ou d'adéquation. Je pense par exemple aux services financiers et à la protection des données.

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Sur notre futur partenariat économique, en revanche, certaines positions britanniques exprimées dans le White Paper ne correspondent pas aux guidelines du Conseil européen et à mon mandat.

Nous sommes d'accord pour fonder notre future relation sur une zone de libre-échange sans tarif ni quota. C'est un point très important.

Mais nous avons deux points de divergence avec les propositions britanniques parce que ces deux points sont clairement contradictoires avec les fondations de notre, de votre marché unique.

Premièrement, en matière douanière :

Le Royaume-Uni voudrait conserver l'autonomie de sa politique commerciale, pouvoir négocier ses propres accords, tout en restant dans notre espace douanier.

Ainsi, il pourrait pratiquer des tarifs inférieurs aux nôtres aux frontières extérieures tout en restant dans un marché unique des biens avec nous. Cela, de notre point de vue, pourrait provoquer un risque majeur de détournement des flux commerciaux, au détriment de nos entreprises.

Le Royaume-Uni veut appliquer ses propres tarifs extérieurs tout en collectant pour nous les droits de douanes européens.

Cela entraînerait pour l'Union une perte de contrôle en matière de collecte de revenus fiscaux, qu'il s'agisse des droits de douane pour le budget européen ou des revenus de TVA pour les Etats membres.

Nous savons que le Royaume-Uni souhaite retrouver le contrôle de ses frontières, de ses politiques et de son argent et nous respectons ce choix. Mais le gouvernement britannique doit accepter, de la même manière, que nous conservions le contrôle de nos frontières douanières.

Un autre point de divergence concerne le cadre réglementaire pour les biens :

  •  Le Royaume-Uni a demandé à s'aligner sur une partie importante de nos standards pour les biens, mais une partie uniquement, afin de conserver la même participation qu'aujourd'hui à notre marché intérieur, pour ces biens seulement.
  •  Et en même temps, le Royaume-Uni souhaite rester libre de diverger sur l'ensemble des réglementations qui s'appliquent aux facteurs de production de ces biens, que l'on pense aux services, au travail, au capital ou aux normes sociales et environnementales.

Chacun ici comprend qu'un tel système de "marché unique à la carte" reviendrait à offrir au Royaume-Uni et à ses entreprises un avantage compétitif majeur par rapport aux entreprises qui travaillent dans le marché unique.

Prenons deux exemples :

  •        Dans le coût réglementaire des produits chimiques :

o   31% du prix réglementaire – je ne parle pas des matières premières – est lié au respect des normes du produit – que de toute façon tout exportateur doit respecter pour entrer dans notre marché, c'est par exemple la réglementation REACH.

o   Le reste, 69%, est induit par le respect des autres réglementations de l'Union, par exemple les normes environnementales. Et c'est sur cette partie-là que les Britanniques voudraient rester capables de diverger avec nous. Pour l'acier, les chiffres sont encore plus éloquents.

Et vous savez bien que dans certains secteurs économiques où les marges sont faibles, des divergences mineures sur la réglementation peuvent créer un avantage comparatif important pour le Royaume-Uni s'il restait dans le marché unique des biens en divergeant sur tout le reste.

Et c'est la raison pour laquelle beaucoup de chefs d'entreprises, y compris ici au sein d'Eurochambres, nous ont demandé clairement, dans tous les pays de l'Union, de ne rien faire dans cette négociation qui fragilise le marché intérieur ; ce marché intérieur qui représentera toujours après le Brexit 60%, parfois plus, de nos échanges commerciaux. Et le sondage que vous avez fait tout à l'heure montre clairement votre attachement à ce marché intérieur.

Nous avons donc proposé au Royaume-Uni, en tenant compte de nos principes et des lignes rouges britanniques, un partenariat économique fondé sur un accord de libre-échange ambitieux, sans doute accompagné d'une coopération douanière, d'une coopération réglementaire, et aussi d'un level playing field qui soit à la hauteur d'un tel accord de libre-échange.

C'est bien ce partenariat, que nous voulons esquisser dans notre déclaration politique commune avec les Britanniques et qui constituera le socle de notre future relation économique.

Rien ne nous empêchera d'enrichir cette relation économique au cours de la négociation, à condition que nos principes soient respectés.

*

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Les négociations avec le Royaume-Uni se poursuivent cette semaine de manière intensive, jour et nuit, dans l'objectif fixé par les dirigeants des 27 que l'accord soit "à portée de main" au moment du Conseil européen du 17 octobre, mercredi prochain !

C'est ainsi que nous essayons de maximiser les chances d'un retrait ordonné et de minimiser les coûts du Brexit pour vos entreprises.

En cas de "no deal", ces coûts seraient très élevés, d'abord pour le Royaume-Uni mais aussi pour certains secteurs de notre économie. Voilà pourquoi le "no deal" n'est pas, n'a jamais été, notre scénario – même si notre responsabilité est d'être préparés à toutes les options.

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Je voudrais être sincère avec vous : même dans le cas d'un accord, il y aura des adaptations pour beaucoup de vos entreprises en raison du choix britannique. Cela ne pourra pas être business as usual.

Pour aider vos entreprises à faire face à ces adaptations, la Commission européenne a publié plus de 70 notes sur la préparation du Brexit, qui concernent de nombreux secteurs économiques, du commerce électronique au transport maritime, en passant par le marché de l'énergie et les services financiers. Je voudrais remercier Eurochambres et ses membres de votre appui pour cette préparation. La Task Force que je dirige reste aussi à votre disposition.

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Je voudrais juste conclure par un mot plus personnel à la place qui est la mienne comme responsable de cette négociation, sous le contrôle des dirigeants européens et du Parlement européen.

Je voudrais vous dire ce que je pense, comme quelqu'un qui a voté pour la première fois, dans son pays, en 1972, en faveur de l'adhésion du Royaume-Uni à l'Union européenne.

J'ai fait campagne pour le oui et je n'ai jamais regretté ce vote, parce que je pense que l'union fait la force, que déjà à cette époque, encore plus aujourd'hui, il vaut mieux être ensemble pour se faire respecter, défendre nos intérêts et nos valeurs.

Je pense que le Brexit n'a aucune valeur ajoutée. C'est une négociation négative. C'est un "lose-lose game".

Son issue est importante pour l'avenir de l'Europe, au-delà de notre relation avec le Royaume-Uni.

De notre côté, nous nous efforçons d'aboutir à un accord le plus juste et le plus précis sur la séparation et le plus ambitieux pour l'avenir, en défendant les intérêts des citoyens, des entreprises européennes et en préservant les fondations du projet européen.

Pour y parvenir, je continuerai à mener cette négociation jusqu'au bout, au nom de l'Union, en respectant les principes définis par les dirigeants européens et le Parlement européen dès le lendemain du référendum.

Je le ferai avec le même calme, sans aucun esprit de revanche, sans aucune agressivité, avec beaucoup de respect pour un grand pays qui, en toutes hypothèses, restera notre allié et notre partenaire.

Je vous remercie beaucoup pour votre attention.

Back to News