British Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer has told French President Emmanuel Macron that he hopes to strengthen cross-Channel ties in “very political” talks covering issues such as trade and security.

Starmer also told Paris business leaders he wanted to rewrite Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal with the EU “to improve our trading relationship by removing barriers and increasing business opportunities”.

His comments came after the leader of Britain’s main opposition party said in an interview with the Financial Times that he wanted a “closer trading relationship” with the EU and that Johnson’s deal was “too weak”.

Brussels has cast doubt on whether the EU will offer Starmer better terms as he insists a Labor government will not return Britain to the EU’s single market, customs union or the bloc itself.

But Starmer, who hopes to win a British general election that must be held by January 2025, said he wanted to seize an “important” moment to reset Britain’s relationship with the EU when Johnson’s deal comes under review.

He told a business breakfast in Paris that he wanted to “focus on building political and economic stability to ensure that you can make long-term decisions with confidence”.

Johnson’s trade and cooperation agreement with the EU is due to be reviewed in early 2026, five years after it comes into force. Starmer believes this is an important moment for a future Labor government.

He described Tuesday’s 45-minute meeting with Macron in Paris as “very political.” He declined to say whether they had discussed a possible reset of Britain’s relationship with the EU.

The Elysee Palace said Macron and Starmer discussed economic and energy security, Ukraine and strengthening ties between Britain and France.

On the occasion of Starmer’s visit to Paris, the famous London-based think tank “Britain in a Changing Europe” published a report emphasizing that if Labor wins the next general election, Labor will seek to fundamentally improve the UK’s trade relationship with the EU. will face difficulties.

Senior EU officials have warned that the review of the 2026 trade and cooperation agreement will be limited to an operational review and not a large-scale renegotiation.

This year, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is seeking to agree new trading arrangements for Northern Ireland through a deal known as the “Windsor Framework” to resolve the biggest post-Brexit dispute between the UK and the EU. One of the tensions.

But Labor has said it wants to improve Johnson’s Brexit deal, in part by agreeing a veterinary deal with the EU to reduce border checks on animals and food.

Jannike Wachowiak, a researcher and co-author of the UK’s Changing Europe report, said: “As things stand, Brexit fatigue, other priorities, looming elections (for both parties) and the E.U. The combined impact on overall satisfaction with the (trade and cooperation agreement) means the EU will be unwilling to commit resources to rethinking the partnership.”

Starmer wants closer ties with the EU as its member states focus not on expansion westward but eastward, including Ukraine, Moldova and the Balkan countries.

Many believe this should go hand in hand with reforms to the way the EU operates. On Tuesday, a group of French and German researchers published recommendations on how to adapt to enlargement, including expanding majority voting on decisions by most member states and strengthening compliance measures when countries fail to meet rule of law and democratic requirements.

The document, commissioned by French and German European Affairs Ministers Laurence Boone and Anna Lühmann but developed independently of their governments, also recommends different forms of “integration” into the EU for non-member states.

Researchers said this could include “associate membership” in countries such as the UK and Switzerland.

Boone declined to comment on proposals for a new form of UK associate membership of the EU.

Asked whether Starmer promised to get a “better” Brexit deal with the EU if elected next year, Ireland’s European Affairs Minister Peter Burke said: “We do need a good relationship but at the moment we have There is a mechanism to advance these relationships…” . . We must implement and work through the Windsor Framework and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement”.

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