British Prime Minister Theresa May intends to launch the
two-year process of negotiations to leave the EU by the end of
March and some members of her government have suggested this
could include paying to maintain access to the single market.
But Jonathan Faull, who worked in the Commission for 38 years
until retiring in 2016, said paying to access the tariff-free
zone was not how the EU worked.
"Can you buy access to the single market? It's not something
that's on sale in that way," he told the BBC's Newsnight
programme late on Thursday.
That contrasts with the idea floated by Brexit minister David
Davis, who has said that after the UK leaves the EU, giving it
control over migration, the country could continue to make
payments into the EU budget in order to maintain access for its
exporters to the single market.
One area in which Britain did have a strong hand to negotiate
with the EU as defence co-operation which the bloc will want to
continue, Faull said.
"But that's more complicated if you're outside the EU, because
part of the mechanisms used for this purpose are today EU
mechanisms," he said.
Faull's warning that Britain won't be able to buy EU single
market access comes at a time of change for Britain's Brexit
negotiating team. Ivan Rogers, the country's envoy to the EU,
quit earlier this week and was replaced by Tim Barrow.
Prime Minister May has so far said little publicly about her
negotiating position ahead of what are expected to be some of
the most complicated international talks Britain has engaged in
since World War Two.
Some investors fear the government will prioritise curbing
immigration, a so-called "hard Brexit", over ensuring Britain
maintains single market access.
Faull dismissed the idea that Britain could have an arrangement
with the bloc similar to that of non-EU member Norway, pointing
out that Norway makes budgetary contributions to the EU as well
as accepting the free movement of people.
"It's (Norway is) not buying access to the single market in that
sense, it's taking part in a project," Faull said.
(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Michael Holden)
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