Britain must accept EU standards if it wants full market access: Germany’s Maas

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has suggested that the EU’s door would always remain open for Britain to come back. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 29 January 2020

Britain must accept EU standards if it wants full market access: Germany’s Maas

  • ‘By the end of the year, we need to be clear on the shape of our relationship’
  • Referring to the Beatles song “Hello, goodbye,” Maas said that both sides had sorted out the goodbye

BERLIN: Britain will have to compromise on issues such as consumer rights and environment protection if it wants to maintain full access to the European Union’s single market, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Wednesday.
“By the end of the year, we need to be clear on the shape of our relationship,” Maas wrote in a guest article in German weekly Die Zeit in reference to the post-Brexit transition period.
“So let me say very openly: Yes, we all want zero tariffs and zero trade barriers, but that also means zero dumping and zero unfair competition. Without similar standards to protect our workers, our consumers and the environment, there can be no full access to the largest single market in the world.”
Britain and the European Union will therefore have to conduct the negotiations on their post-Brexit economic relations in a way that “won’t harm the European Union,” Maas said.
Turning to security and defense policies, the minister said that Britain and the EU needed to develop new forms of cooperation, for example by creating a European Security Council.
Such a council could help coordinate joint positions on strategic issues of European security and to respond more quickly to international crises. “We are working with France to flesh out this idea as quickly as possible in order to build a foundation for our future relationship,” Maas wrote.
The German minister also suggested that the EU’s door would always remain open for Britain to come back.
Referring to the Beatles song “Hello, goodbye,” Maas said that both sides had sorted out the goodbye.
“But should this farewell ever turn out to be less final than anticipated, rest assured that we will always have a place for you at our table in Brussels and in our hearts,” he added.


Oman’s sultan says government will work to reduce debt

Updated 14 min 55 sec ago

Oman’s sultan says government will work to reduce debt

DUBAI: Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said said on Sunday the government would work to reduce public debt and restructure public institutions and companies to bolster the economy.
Haitham, in his second public speech since assuming power in January, said the government would create a national framework to tackle unemployment while addressing strained public finances.
"We will direct our financial resources in the best way that will guarantee reducing debt and increasing revenues," he said in the televised speech.
"We will also direct all government departments to adopt efficient governance that leads to a balanced, diversified and sustainable economy."
Rated junk by all three major credit rating agencies, Oman's debt to GDP ratio spiked to nearly 60% last year from around 15% in 2015, and could reach 70% by 2022, according to S&P Global Ratings.
The small oil producing country has relied heavily on debt to offset a widening deficit caused by lower crude prices. Also, the late Sultan Qaboos, who ruled Oman for nearly 50 years, held back on austerity measures.
The country has delayed introducing a 5% value added tax from 2019 to 2021, and economic diversification has been slow, with oil and gas accounting for over 70% of government revenues.
Last week, rating agency Fitch said Oman was budgeting for a higher deficit of 8.7% for 2020 despite its expectation of further asset-sale proceeds and some spending cuts.
"We are willing to take the necessary measures to restructure the state's administrative system and its legislation," Haitham said in his first speech since the mourning period for Qaboos ended, without elaborating.
He said there would be a full review of government companies to improve their business performance and competence.
Oman observers have said that if Haitham moves to decentralise power it would signal willingness to improve decision making. Like Qaboos, he holds the positions of finance minister and central bank chairman as well as premier, defence and foreign minister.