Brexit: EU's 'peculiar' law criticised by Eustice
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Last week Bern decided to end its seven years of intense wrangling with Brussels over a new trade agreement over fears the pact would impinge on its sovereignty. Politicians said the deal would ultimately be rejected by Swiss voters because eurocrats were asking for too many powers to be handed over to the EU in exchange for single market access. EU negotiators have since refused to budge to allow the talks to resume, with many experts claiming the bloc must pursue an even harder line because of Brexit.
Switzerland and the EU will now fall back on the 120 bilateral agreement that currently manage their tight-knit trading relationship.
Johnny Luk, a former Conservative party parliamentary candidate, has argued that the breakdown in EU-Swiss talks shows that Britain was right to Brexit.
A similar argument has been made by Brexit minister Lord Frost, who believes the EU must now rethink the way it treats countries on its doorstep.
Writing for Al Jazeera, Mr Luk said: “EU institutions have taken a battering in recent times, with a slow vaccine rollout during the COVID-19 pandemic, a lack of solidarity in crucial matters such as on migration policy, with rogue EU members Hungary and Poland openly challenging the EU’s principles, causing frequent tussles between the 27 member countries during their council meetings.
“In turn, jaded EU officials have become more defensive and inflexible, desperate to show their strength by jabbing both the UK and Switzerland with tough trading demands.
“The EU’s behaviour has given fuel to Eurosceptic demands in the UK for an economically looser Brexit.
“In a similar vein, the EU has failed to convince the Swiss that more oversight from the European Court of Justice, alongside more rights for EU citizens in Switzerland, were a fair price to pay for more market access.
“The Swiss government, which practises direct democracy with nationwide referendums for significant policies, knew that any public vote would soundly rebuff those proposals.”
Mr Luk suggested that the EU should do some soul-searching to re-evaluate its goals when entering into trade negotiations with other neighbouring states.
He questioned whether eurocrats would eventually concede it is them making “unreasonable demands” in future rounds of talks.
“Maybe then it would make more friends again,” Mr Luk claimed.
“Until then, it makes a good deal of sense for the UK and Switzerland to stay well away from the EU’s institutions.”
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Whitehall insiders believe that the EU’s current posturing over the Northern Ireland Protocol is reminiscent of their treatment of Britain and Switzerland.
The bloc is currently pushing for Britain to submit to vast swathes of Brussels red tape in order to cut 80 percent of the customs checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
This has been rejected by Brexit minister Lord Frost, who insists the UK will not bow to the pressure.
In a recent op-ed for the FT, he said: “The EU needs a new playbook for dealing with neighbours, one that involves pragmatic solutions between friends, not the imposition of one side’s rules on the other and legal purism.”
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A Government source told Express.co.uk that the EU is attempting to lock Britain to its rules after Michel Barnier failed to do so doing the trade negotiations.
It was suggested that the bloc is cynically using Northern Ireland to make up for the botched deal signed by the former Brexit negotiator.
The insider said: “It’s a policy position of the EU which is about putting the single market beyond all else, and forgetting that these rules apply through the prism of the Protocol, which has a number of other objectives, including minimising the impact on people’s lives and upholding the delicate balance of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.”
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