The General Affairs Council of the European Union has authorised the European Commission to start negotiations for a new partnership with the UK, talks the Malta Business Bureau expects to be difficult, especially because of time pressures.
“Both the EU and the UK should, therefore, keep an open mind on the possibility of making use of the one-time extension that needs to be triggered by mid-2020 in order to pursue further discussions post the deadline,” Mr Tanti said.
He pointed out that it is crucial for Malta that the future EU-UK deal ensures that travel between the two blocs continues to take place unhindered, particularly for the aviation sector and the movement of people for short-term travel. Considering the big volume of trade in goods, it is important to maintain tariff and quota free trade, while non-tariff barriers are kept strictly to a minimum, he added.
Mr Tanti added: “From our sources in Brussels, we increasingly hear that, due to the constraints of time, a deal could primarily focus on the movement of goods. However, the Maltese economy also depends strongly on the provision of services, and, therefore, we urge for a parallel ambitious agreement in the trade of services that avoids divergence in rules as much as possible, and with continuous regulatory cooperation in the coming years to avoid barriers to trade in this area.”