EU Envoys Agree Mandate for Brexit Trade Talks


EU ambassadors on Monday finalized a mandate for chief negotiator Michel Barnier ahead of tough talks due to start next week on Britain's future relationship with the bloc.

The paper setting out the bloc's demands and red lines for negotiations will now go to a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels on Tuesday for formal adoption, while London is expected to publish its own mandate on Thursday.

Britain formally left the EU on January 31 but is still trading like a member under a transition period ticking down to the end of the year, by which point a trade agreement is supposed to be struck.

"We have an agreement on the mandate at the level of ambassadors, who adopted it by consensus. It's good news," one source told AFP.

The latest version of the mandate, which has been revised several times, "specifies that the agreement should allow us to have fair competition conditions over the long term," the source added.

The extent to which Britain will follow EU rules on environmental, labor and other standards is set to be one of the thorniest issues in the talks.

"The mandate was clarified on all necessary points," another source added.

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