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Post-Brexit EU trade deal dependent on Britain's stance on competition and fisheries, says Michel Barnier

The European Union has set out battle lines for its post-Brexit trade negotiations with Britain.

Michel Barnier, the bloc's chief Brexit negotiator, said the EU was prepared to offer quota and tariff free access to the single market - dependent on two key points.

Outlining the bloc's stance this morning, he said these were:

  • Measures to ensure competition remains open and fair
  • An agreement on fisheries with "reciprocal access"

He insisted that the EU wanted an ambitious deal - but reiterated the stance that such a plan was dependent on Britain's actions.

The withdrawal agreement, he said, outlined the desire for fair competition - so it is "not a surprise" to the UK that the EU wants "unfair competitive advantages" to be ruled out.

The bloc respects the desire for divergence but said it does not want to allow this to become "an instrument for unfair competition".

Describing Britain as a "great ally" and "great neighbour", he bemoaned the nation's departure but said the bloc wished to respect Britain's choices.

"It was a sombre moment [Britain formally leaving]. Very sombre," he said. "The most ambitious partnership was the one we had."

Asked about the potential of a Canadian-style deal, as touted by the Government, he said: "Yes, that's the objective, where there is a will, there is a way. But we are constrained by the decision of Boris Johnson, if it is confirmed, to leave the single market and the custom's union at the end of this year."

However, he said every such agreement similar to Canada's was individual and dependent on a number of circumstances.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is set to outline the Government's stance on trade in a speech in London later today.

He is expected to tell the EU he will accept no alignment, no jurisdiction of the European courts, and no concessions to any Brussels’ demands.

Talks are set to start in March.

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