PARIS (Reuters) - France’s economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, told those advocating an exit of Britain from the European Union they were wrong if they thought they could clinch a trade deal with the remaining EU without contributing to the bloc’s budget.
In a video interview with the Financial Times published online on Friday, Macron said Britain could strike a trade deal similar to the one Norway or Switzerland have, but that it would still have to contribute towards the EU budget and even then would not automatically receive full-fledged access to the single market.
Asked whether the “Leave campaign” was right to argue that Britain would be able to negotiate the same trade deal with the EU if it left than the one it currently enjoys as a member, he said:
“I think that’s a big mistake. The best possible trade deal is the one you have and especially the one just renegotiated with the rest of the EU.
“So those who pretend that passporting will be preserved exactly following the same rules without any contribution to the budget, are making a big, a big mistake because it’s completely wrong,” Macron added.
“So for sure, you can renegotiate a trade arrangement, but this trade deal will be less favourable to the UK than being part of the club,” he said.
He also said Britain would also have to face volatility between the June referendum on Brexit and the time it implements any trade deal, which would take one to two years.
Macron, who has sought to pressure the European Commission and EU members into imposing higher tariffs on cheap Chinese steel imports, said Britain would struggle to stand up to China outside the 28-member union.
“Do you think you will be in a situation to protect your steel industry tomorrow if you are alone as the UK economy facing the Chinese one?” he asked.
“I do believe it’s much more efficient to be part of the EU.”
Reporting by Michel Rose Editing by Jeremy Gaunt