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EU's Vestager insists on 'level playing field' after Brexit

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European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Tuesday the EU's 27 remaining member states would remain very vigilant that Britain play by the same rules as Europe on business after Brexit.

[BRUSSELS] European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Tuesday the EU's 27 remaining member states would remain very vigilant that Britain play by the same rules as Europe on business after Brexit.

Ms Vestager, who has spearheaded Europe's effort to keep tech giants in line with EU law, said that her teams have been working "very closely" with Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on the matter.

"From what we see, the UK economy will be integrated with other European businesses and this is why the level playing field is so important," she told AFP in an interview.

"The UK may not be a member (of the EU) of course but you just don't drift away thousands of kilometres and become another nation, you're still Europe one way or another," she said.

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The commissioner said this was especially pertinent on the Irish border backstop, the most sensitive topic in the negotiations that involves preventing a visible border between EU-member Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland after the divorce.

In the draft agreement, both sides have agreed that under the backstop arrangement the UK must observe "level playing field" commitments on competition and state aid, as well as on environment standards and tax.

These measures are intended to ensure that UK businesses are not able to undercut EU industry in the post-Brexit future.

"You can see our intentions in the backstop draft agreement to say that we do need a level playing field when it comes to state aid, when it comes to anti-trust because we are so integrated," Ms Vestager said.

"It is very important for all member states ... because of the value chain being so integrated .. you will have suppliers on both sides of the channel," she said.

Ms Vestager insisted that the UK was a global leader on fair competition concerns and that this would continue after the divorce.

Britain has "a very strong competition culture and that I think will sustain."

This expertise "is one of the things they brought when they entered the EU 43 years ago," she added.

AFP