No Brexit trade deal on financial services - minister

A future UE/UK trade deal cannot include financial services Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire has said.

Mr Le Maire made the comments in an interview on the BBC’s Today programme and also on his Twitter account.

He told the BBC: “We need a good deal, but once again we have to avoid any misunderstanding between the British people and the French people, France and the UK. Financial services cannot be in a free trade agreement, for many reasons, for reasons of stability, for the sake of supervision because there are some very specific rules for financial services. But we have an alternative system called the equivalence regimes.”

Equivalence refers to a scheme whereby the EU officially recognises a non-EU country’s financial regulation and supervision system but it does not amount to allowing full free trade in services.

Mr Le Maire also stated, on Twitter, that there would be “no financial passport” for the UK after Brexit, adding: “This means that, in the future, cross-border financial services cannot be offered into the EU27 in the same way as today from the UK. The rules will change.”

UK Chancellor Philip Hammond is to make a speech insisting that such inclusion is possible. He will say that every trade deal the EU has made with other countries has been unique and that “it is time to address the sceptics who say a trade deal including financial services cannot be done because it has never been done before”.

Last week UK Prime Minister said she wanted a deal “covering more sectors and with more cooperation than any other free trade deal in the world today”.

This comes also as European Council President Donald Tusk is today to present guidelines for the future EU/UK relationship. The European Parliament is also preparing a resolution setting out its objectives.

Mr Le Maire has been in London to meet with investors and business leaders to explain the Macron government’s financial and legal reforms and to prepare for the move from London to Paris of the European Banking Authority. He tweeted that: “The time when France said 'finance is the enemy’ is over! We want to be as attractive as possible. Yes, France is back and investors are welcome!”

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