EU trade chief: ‘Australia-style’ Brexit agreement means no deal

Opinion piece (Politico)
05 February 2020

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson could still end up without a trade agreement if he pursues an "Australia-style" deal with the EU because such a deal does not exist, European Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan said.

In a speech at the Centre for European Reform think tank in Brussels Tuesday night, Hogan criticized Johnson for suggesting that Britain could negotiate an arrangement similar to what the EU has with Australia if the bloc refuses to forgo enforcement of so-called level playing field rules, designed to prevent unfair competition among countries.

“We do not have an agreement with Australia,” Hogan said. “I think that’s code for no deal.”

He warned that despite Brexit fatigue, Britons “have to stay awake” and keep a close watch on their government's choices in the upcoming negotiations with the EU to ensure this doesn't happen.

Johnson’s promise to “get Brexit done” was popular because people understood it to mean “get Brexit out of the way,” Hogan said. “The Brexit debate has been a tyranny over British public life for the last three years.”

Yet elementary decisions still need to be made, the Irish commissioner added. “What are you Brexiting from and what are you Brexiting to?”