Emmanuel Macron is calling for the UK to be forced to commit to mirroring EU rules on employment and the environment forever if it wants a post-Brexit free trade deal with the European Union.
The French president has reportedly instructed the European Commission to tell Britain that the price of a trade deal will be a guarantee from Downing Street that when the EU upgrades its rules the UK will follow suit.
One diplomat told The Telegraph that ‘France wants dynamic alignment across the board’ while another said ‘full dynamic alignment makes sense’ as an ‘opening bid’ in trade talks.
Mr Barnier has sought alignment on rules and regulations in core areas with formal trade talks between the two sides due to start in March.
Many in the bloc are adamant the UK must agree to sticking to the same standards as the EU in order to stop Britain ‘undercutting’ the rest of Europe.
They fear that a divergent UK would be able to become a more attractive destination for business than the bloc.
There are also concerns that the Brexit trade deal must be future-proofed so that the the UK cannot simply ditch regulations in the decades to come.
Brussels officials believe a legally binding commitment to mirroring future EU rules would protect against a more competitive UK emerging on the bloc’s doorstep.
One diplomat told the Guardian: ‘We are not going to agree that quota-free, tariff-free access, if there is no level playing field.’
Alignment on rules will be a crunch issue during post-Brexit trade talks between the EU and the UK.
But Brexiteers believe the UK must be free to do what it wants on rules and regulations after the Brexit transition period ends in December this year.