European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has reiterated that Britain will not have access to the single market after Brexit.
He torpedoed British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Chequers Agreement that calls for Britain to remain in the single market for goods in his annual State of the European Union speech.
“We respect of course the British decision to leave our Union. But we regret it deeply,” Juncker said, “but we also ask the British government to understand that someone who leaves the Union cannot be in the same privileged position of the member states.
“If you leave our Union you are no longer part of our Single Market. Certainly not only in parts of it.”
However, all does not seem lost for May’s proposals.
Free trade on the table
“We agree with the statement in Chequers that the starting point should be a free trade area in the United Kingdom and the European Union,” he said.
“After 29 March 2019, the UK will never be an ordinary third country for us. The UK will always be a very close neighbour and partner in political, economic and security terms.”
That closeness does not extend to sharing the Galileo global positioning satellite system which the British space technology industry has played a key part in developing.
Juncker poured scorn on May’s plan for the UK to build a satellite network to rival Galileo, claiming no single state could have achieved the same as the EU.
Britain can’t build satellite system
“A strong and united Europe is what allows its member states to reach for the stars. It is our Galileo,” he said.
“Programme that is today keeping Europe in the space race. No single member state could have put 26 satellites in orbit, for the benefit of 400 million users worldwide. No single member state could have done this alone.
“Galileo is a success in great part, if not entirely, thanks to Europe.”
In the wide-ranging speech, Juncker also confirmed that the EU had no plans for a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, while May has repeatedly said Northern Ireland will not remain within the single market effectively under the rule of Brussels after Brexit.