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Ensuring a post-Brexit level playing field

The European Council’s guidelines for the Brexit negotiations, published one month after it received the Article 50 notification from the United Kingdom, state that “any free trade agreement […] must ensure a level playing field, notably in terms of competition and state aid, and in this regard encompass safeguards against unfair competitive advantages through, inter alia, tax, social, environmental and regulatory measures and practices.”

The British Government’s stated desire to divert from EU standards such as labour or environment ones appear to be a clear indication that PM Johnson’s administration cannot be trusted with vague aspirations concerning the EU’s border in Ireland.

This reflects that the UK’s decision to leave the Union has created significant uncertainties and concerns. No longer bound by EU rules after Brexit, the UK could, if it so chooses, lower social, environmental and labour standards to give its businesses an (unfair?) advantage vis-à-vis EU competitors. The EU27’s concern is that the UK could turn into a ‘low tax, low regulation’ economy, which will undermine the European economic model. To prevent this from happening, the EU has pushed for the inclusion of commitments covering several policy areas in the Withdrawal Agreement.

This publication analyses the proposals that are on the table to ensure a level playing field between the UK and the EU after Brexit and assesses in how far the objectives laid out in the European Council guidelines have been met. It does so in relation to different crucial policy areas, including environmental standards, labour and social standards, technical regulations and standards, and state aid control.

The full report published by the European Policy Centre ( can be found here:-

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