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The EU countries accepted that the European Commission begin negotiations with the British as soon as possible.
European Union's Foreign Ministers Tuesday definitively approved the mandate to negotiate the future relationship of its economic bloc with the United Kingdom after Brexit, which means that the talks could begin in March.
The mandate for the European Commission (EC) to negotiate with the United Kingdom was approved during the General Affairs Council meeting in Brussels, Belgium.
The EU-27 diplomats should have approved negotiations on Feb. 19, but failed to reach consensus in areas related to "the level playing field", which is important given that the U.K. is no longer subject to EU rules.
"It is important to respect European rules. We need to keep reciprocal conditions to make sure we keep an equal and loyal relationship," France’s Minister of State for European Affairs Amelie de Montchalin said.
✅ Mandate approved. Ready to go. Negotiations with the #UK will begin the week of 2nd March.
We stand ready to build a close, ambitious partnership with the UK. This is good for people, good for business. #NewBeginnings ��������
The trade agreement proposed by the EC to the U.K. is "highly ambitious" because it seeks no tariffs or quotas for goods entering the single market and underlines the need to maintain a level playing field between the two parties.
Although the British have not yet published their negotiating mandate, their goal is to ensure "our economic and political independence on January 1st, 2021," as Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman said on Tuesday.
The EU-U.K.trade talks are expected to be complicated given that many regulatory gaps must be resolved. Among them are issues related to the "level playing field" and trade problems about fishing, as reported by The Guardian.