The UK and the EU are embarking on the next stage of the Brexit negotiations to determine their future trading relationship.

Both sides are looking to agree a free trade agreement to guarantee no tariffs and quotas on traded goods. As the quid pro quo for a tariff-free, quota-free deal, the EU has made clear its expectation of a ‘level playing field’ for trade in order to prevent the UK from gaining an unfair competitive advantage over the EU. This includes an agreement on areas such as state aid and competition policy, taxation, environmental protections, and labour and social standards.

For the UK government, such level playing field measures will prove difficult to accept, given prime minister Boris Johnson’s insistence that the future agreement cannot include any requirement for the UK to continue to follow EU rules or be subject to the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The stage is therefore set for a major stand-off between the UK and the EU on the scope and enforcement of the ‘level playing field’ for post-Brexit trade.