Emmanuel Macron has said it would be possible for Britain to secure a bespoke trade deal but only if the UK accepts certain “preconditions”.
The French president said that while a special solution could be secured, full access to the single market without accepting its rules was “not feasible”.
The comments were made during an interview recorded for BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday. Macron has been in the UK for his first visit since taking office.
On Thursday, at the end of a joint press conference with Theresa May at Sandhurst military training college, he rejected the idea of a tailored Brexit deal for Britain’s financial services sector. Macron said full access to EU markets would not be possible unless the UK paid into the EU budget and accepted all its rules.
In the interview with Marr, he said there was “a competition between different countries” to attract financial services companies in the future and that France wanted “to attract the maximum activity”.
The Brexit secretary, David Davis, has said he is seeking a “Canada plus plus plus” arrangement, based on the EU-Canada trade treaty, but with additional access for services. However, EU negotiators have stressed that Britain would not be allowed to “cherry-pick” sectors.
Pressed on whether there would be a bespoke special solution for the UK, Macron said: “Sure, but … this special way should be consistent with the preservation of the single market and our collective interests.
“And you should understand that you cannot, by definition, have the full access to the single market if you don’t tick the box.”
He added: “So it’s something perhaps between this full access and a trade agreement.”
He stressed that the UK would not be able to gain access to the single market without first agreeing to “preconditions”, which would include freedom of movement, budget contributions and the jurisdiction of the European court of justice.
He said: “There should be no cherry-picking in the single market because that’s a dismantling of the single market.
“As soon as you decide not to join the [EU] preconditions it’s not a full access. What is important is to not make people believe that it is possible to [have your cake and eat it].”
His comments were later clarified in a statement released by the French embassy on Twitter. “The president makes it very clear in his interview that conditions for accessing the single market are strict and non-negotiable,” it said.
“As an alternative to this full access, he specifically mentions an ambitious trade agreement of the type negotiated with Canada (obviously adapted to the UK, as every bilateral trade agreement is unique) but not a cherry-picking approach whereby the UK would have the advantages of access to the European single market without what is required in return.
“The president also recalls in this interview that the negotiations will be managed by a singleEuropean negotiator.”
In the interview, which will be broadcast in full on Sunday morning, Macron also said the door was still open for Brexit to be reversed, saying EU member states would become 27 “unhappily”.
Asked if it was inevitable that Britain would leave, he replied: “I mean, it’s on your own. It depends on you. I mean, I do respect this vote, I do regret this vote, and I would love to welcome you again.”
This article was written by Nicola Slawson, for theguardian.com on Saturday 20th January 2018 16.06 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010