The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator sharply accused London on Tuesday of seeking to preserve its position as a global financial gateway to Europe, despite its divorce from the bloc.
The City of London has been Europe’s financial hub for decades, one of the major benefits of Britain’s 47 years of EU membership that ended on January 31.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s negotiator for future relations with the UK, said Britain was trying to preserve the benefits of membership for its big banks and investors.
“I will be blunt: its proposals are unacceptable,” Barnier said in a virtual speech to the Eurofi financial conference.
January 1, when a post-Brexit transition period ends, will “bring big changes” to London-based financial companies, he said.
“This should not come as a surprise to you. We have been warning about this for the past three years,” he said.
Barnier made his comments as the EU and Britain were holding talks in Brussels on forging their future ties after four months of fruitless negotiations.
Global banks from Wall Street and Asia are hoping to maintain their vast operations in London as much as possible.
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Barnier said that Britain “would like to make it easy to continue to run EU businesses from London, with minimal operations and staff on the continent.”
“There is no way member states or the European Parliament would accept this.”
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