EU set to play hardball on negotiations... and wants UK to hand over the Elgin marbles

The EU has hardened its stance ahead of negotiations on a new deal with Britain, which quit the bloc at the end of last month, demanding fair competition guarantees that would “stand the test of time”, according to a document seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

The draft of the negotiating mandate to be approved by the European Union’s 27 member states doubled down from an earlier version on demands that Britain adopt a level-playing field with the bloc on areas from state aid to labour and social standards, Reuters reports.

The EU’s new position emerged a day after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit adviser said London would never be bound by the bloc’s rules and this was the whole point of its determination to leave.

“To think that we might accept EU supervision on so-called level playing field issues simply fails to see the point of what we are doing,” David Frost said in a lecture in Brussels. “That isn’t a simple negotiating position which might move under pressure – it is the point of the whole project.”

The two sides are aiming for a deal by the end of the year which would cover a raft of issues from trade to security to fishing to space and environmental cooperation.

The EU , in a document leaked via social media, says that “The Parties should ... address issues relating to the return or restitution of unlawfully removed cultural objects to their countries of origin.”

An EU diplomat reportedly said the line on cultural artefacts was proposed by Greece, with support from Italy.

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