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European Commission Presidents Sets Out Ambition for a Free Trade Agreement with the UK

The European Commission has issued a release on a speech given by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in the European Parliament on negotiations for a free trade agreement with the UK.

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The EU will enter the negotiations with the UK with the highest ambition, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission said at the Plenary session of the European Parliament today. The MEPs debated the Commission's proposal for a mandate for the negotiations of a new partnership with the United Kingdom.

"Good old friends like the UK and us should not settle for anything less than this", von der Leyen said, stressing how important it was for the EU's partners to join us in making the rules-based trade system fairer and stronger. She spoke of the benefits of free trade agreements – from creating new markets for businesses, to increasing exchange of goods and services, to raising standards in numerous areas.

When the European Union agreed the Political Declaration with the United Kingdom, it ambitioned a zero tariffs and zero quotas trade relation for all goods. This was a unique ambition in terms of access to the EU's Single Market, von der Leyen explained. "This would require corresponding guarantees on fair competition and the protection of social, environmental and consumer standards. In short: This is plain and simply the level playing field", she told the Parliament.

She commended the UK for achievements in areas of social protection, climate action and competition rules. "I have heard ambition on cutting carbon emissions. Ambition on guaranteeing that our firms are competing in full fairness. This is what we also want. Let us formally agree on these objectives".

Von der Leyen said we could 'trigger an upward dynamic competition' that would benefit both the UK and the EU, and that was in our mutual interest. She also informed the MEPs that the Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom was ready to start the negotiations.

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