Amélie de Montchalin, the country’s European affairs minister, said the 11-month timetable set by the Prime Minister is only achievable if the UK signs up to the bloc’s rulebook. She said Paris is not willing to make “sacrifices” for the sake of having a trade deal between the UK and EU ready by the end of the Brexit transition period, suggesting talks could run until at least June next year. “The more reasonable the demands of the UK are, the more reasonably we can agree on such a timeframe,” Ms de Montchalin told the Politico website.
“It will now depend on how the UK presents its negotiation strategy and objectives.”
She said the further Mr Johnson seeks to distance the UK from Brussels’ rules and regulations, the longer the bloc will attempt to drag talks out.
Mr Johnson has ruled out extending Britain’s transition period beyond December 31 if a deal on the future relationship between the UK and EU has not been agreed.
But Ms de Montchalin vowed not to be rushed into striking an accord with the UK despite the emergence of a new no-deal cliff edge.
She said: “We are not ready to sacrifice the content, quality and seriousness of an agreement just because put ourselves in a straight jacket of a too-tight calendar.
“By signing an agreement, we will start a long journey. If we need six months more, it’s worth taking them.”
Paris will tell Brussels negotiator Michel Barnier that “reciprocity” between the UK and EU must be at the heart of any future agreement.
“As soon as we put ourselves under the same constraint, that’s a great way to create reciprocity,” Ms de Montchalin said.
“We have to be very serious. We cannot expose our own people, consumers and farmers to disloyal competition.”
She stated France wants the UK to continue following the EU’s standards on goods, the environment, tax and labour.
“We just agreed in Europe on carbon neutrality by 2050. We are putting ourselves under constraint, voluntarily,” she said.
“I understand that Boris Johnson wants to make the U.K. a global champion of the fight against climate change … Does it mean that he’s also putting in law carbon neutrality by 2050?”
Brussels wants the new measure to cover taxation, labour and environmental standards, as well as state aid provisions.
According to a series of negotiation documents, the bloc hopes to use “non-regression” clauses that would block the UK lowering its standards to deliberately improve its competitiveness.
The demands are likely to spark an early trade row since Mr Johnson has told the EU’s most senior officials that he intends for the UK to take back control of its rule-making, fishing waters and immigration system.