France warned on Tuesday there was little chance of securing a free trade deal for financial services firms based in the UK once the country leaves the EU next year.
Sustaining the country’s tough stance at the negotiating table, Bruno le Maire, the French economy minister, told BBC Radio 4: “Financial services cannot be in a free trade agreement… we have to rely on equivalence regimes, that is the best solution for financial services.”
London is proposing a mutual recognition system that automatically gives the financial services industry continued access to the EU’s markets.
Le Maire added: “We need to find a new solution for the UK and the EU, and it will be up to Mr Barnier to find. The first objective should be as little friction as possible and the lowest possible tariffs.”
Speaking before a meeting with British finance minister Philip Hammond, le Maire said, “Life will go on” once Britain has left the EU. “We need the UK. We need a good relationship between the great country of the UK and the great country of France,” he added.