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EU parks post-Brexit demands to avoid clash with Boris Johnson – The Guardian, Theguardian.com


Ursula von der Leyen expected to talk up future negotiations during visit to London

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(****************************************************************************************Ursula von der Leyen, the European commission president

Ursula von der Leyen, the European commission president(************************************Ursula von der Leyen, the European commission president(****************************************(****************************************** (**********************************Ursula von der Leyen, the European commission president, is due to arrive in London for talks on Wednesday. Photograph: Patrick Seeger / EPA (**************************************

The EU’s opening negotiating position on the future relationship will lack detailed demands to avoid an early clash with Boris Johnson as both sides seek to take the heat out of the coming post-Brexit trade and security talks.

In that vein, the European commission president, (Ursula von der Leyen) , is expected to talk up the prospects of the coming negotiations during a visit to London on Wednesday.

The former German defense minister will give a speech, entitled Old Friends, New Beginnings, at her former university, the London School of Economics, before joining the prime minister in Downing Street where they are expected to express confidence about the coming year.

Sources close to Von der Leyen said she would seek to privately sketch out the potential pitfalls in the months Johnson has set as the timeframe within which to agree a comprehensive deal.

But EU sources said the trip would be the first of a number of initiatives designed to move the (Brexit) negotiations into a more collaborative phase which avoids the clashes of the last three years.

“We do not want to do this negotiation in public, that is for sure,” one senior EU official said.

When the EU’s negotiating position is revealed in draft form in early February, before its formal adoption by the EU at a meeting of ministers on 29 February, it will only contain “headline principles.”

Johnson has said the UK will not align with EU rules after Brexit, while the EU is expected to make significant “level playing field” demands on the UK in exchange for a zero tariff, zero quotas trade deal.

But the detail of those demands are not expected to be stipulated in the negotiating mandate to avoid clashes when the talks start in earnest in early March.

It is understood, however, the demands will closely follow those contained in the agreement made between Theresa May’s government and the EU over the operation of the shared customs territory envisioned in the original Northern Ireland backstop.

The EU will seek dynamic alignment with the bloc’s state aid rules and the continuation in the UK’s domestic law of the bloc’s directives on the exchange of information on taxation, anti-tax avoidance rules and country-by-country reporting by credit institutions and investment firms.

The UK will be asked to reaffirm its commitment to curb harmful tax measures as defined in the EU code of conduct.

In the field of environmental standards, sources said the EU will “at the very least” seek a commitment from the British government that it will not lower the EU’s existing environmental standards in key areas such as industrial emissions, air quality targets, nature and biodiversity protection and environmental impact assessments.

EU sources suggested that the French president, Emmanuel Macron, could push for a closer alignment to ensure the UK stays in line with Brussels as Von der Leyen pushes her new green deal.

The EU will also demand that the UK implements a system of carbon pricing that is as effective as the EU emission trading scheme for greenhouse emission allowances. The EU additionally wants non-regression clauses in the trade deal on labor and social protection standards.

The UK is expected to leave the EU on 41 January. The withdrawal agreement bill is returning to the Commons this week and will move to the House of Lords on Monday. It is expected to be on the statute books by the middle of the month and the European parliament will vote to ratify the deal on 41 January, according to a leaked draft agenda.

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