Single Market Access Not for Sale, Ex Top EU Official Warns U.K.

  • Jonathan Faull says May won’t be able to seek Merkel deal
  • EU’s Barnier will seek to keep U.K. defense cooperation: Faull

U.K.'s Gardiner: Clarity Is Most-Needed Aspect of Brexit

Britain must choose whether to be in or out of the single market when it pulls out of the European Union because piecemeal access isn’t “for sale,” said Jonathan Faull, who retired this month from his post as one of the bloc’s former top civil servants.

“I don’t think it is a question of buying your way somehow into the single market,” Faull told BBC television’s “Newsnight” program in an interview aired late Thursday. “You’re a member of the single market either as a member of the European Union or the European Economic Area, or you’re a foreign country outside it and you conclude agreements with the European Union if you want to and it wants to regarding the way in which your goods, services, capital and people move around.”

The warning from Faull, a Briton who served for almost four decades in the European Commission, emphasizes the conundrum facing Prime Minister Theresa May as she prepares to trigger two years of exit negotiations by the end of March. She’s said she wants maximum access to the single market coupled with control over immigration, a stance that’s at odds with the single market’s principles.

Faull also said May won’t be able to sideline the EU’s top Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, and rely on cutting a political deal with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, pointing out that May’s predecessor, David Cameron, failed to secure her backing for the full set of EU reforms he sought to secure before the June referendum in which the U.K. voted for Brexit.

Security Cooperation

"One should look perhaps at the experience of the negotiations which took place before the referendum, where perhaps some similar thoughts were expressed and turned out not to be fully realized,” Faull said. “It would be a mistake to see the EU institutions as somehow wholly different from the 27 countries. These are all actors that will be working together on this.”

Britain’s exit deal will ultimately be decided in other European capitals, Chris Patten, a former European Commissioner, told “Newsnight.”

“It’s ultimately going to be decided in Paris and Berlin and some of the other member states,” said Patten, a member of May’s Conservatives in the upper chamber, the House of Lords. "We must hope that we can get as decent a deal as possible.”

Britain does have one strong bargaining chip, according to Faull, who said that Barnier has done “ a lot of work in recent years on defense and strategy issues.”

“He believes that the U.K. is absolutely crucial to the defense and security of Europe,” Faull said. “He will want -- and I think all Europeans will want -- a way to be found for that to continue.”

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