The U.K. shouldn’t give up hope of getting financial services included in a final trade agreement with the European Union, with a Bloomberg survey of the EU’s 27 remaining governments revealing divergences of opinion.
While nearly all of the EU’s capitals consider maintaining unity of the bloc their main priority, a few take a softer line on financial services than the one expressed by Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator. Barnier has said there can be no easy access to the bloc’s single market for U.K. financial companies because this has never been included in previous EU trade deals and would be tantamount to allowing the U.K. to “cherry pick” the best aspects of EU membership.
“While I stick to the principle that there can be no cherry-picking, I still think that we should refrain from an orthodox or binary thinking,” Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel has said. “My top priority would be to limit the negative impact for both sides. Pragmatism will be needed in these negotiations on both sides.”
Bettel’s comments are the softest of any EU leader yet. Financial services look set to be one of the most divisive areas in the negotiations, with the U.K. demanding a generous deal while the EU refuses to shift from its insistence that Britain’s red lines — such as ending the free movement of workers from the EU and resistance to European Court of Justice oversight — make it impossible.