EU would be ‘delighted’ to forge closer ties with next UK government, economy commissioner says

The European Union would be delighted if it could forge a warmer relationship with a future UK government, according to the bloc’s economy commissioner, Paolo Gentiloni.

Questioned on Bloomberg Television about the prospects for greater rapprochement between the two parties in the event of a change of government in Great Britain, the Brussels official expressed his hope.

“What we hope for is closer ties,” he said in an interview with Oliver Crook. “I have to say that we reached a very good agreement with the current government. But if a closer relationship with the new government is possible, we will be very happy.”

The comments on the sidelines of a meeting of Group of Seven finance ministers in the lakeside Italian town of Stresa follow UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s announcement of elections on 4 July.

With the ruling Conservative Party languishing in the polls, the prime minister would need to make a notable turnaround to avoid a victory for the opposition Labor Party led by Keir Starmer.

While Sunak has brought the UK closer to the EU and helped normalize relations with the bloc, the Labor Party has promised to further improve ties if it comes to power.

Last year, Sunak’s government agreed to the Windsor Framework to facilitate trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, and struck a deal for the UK to rejoin the EU’s Horizon science programme. However, Sunak recently rejected a proposal from Brussels to make it easier for young people to travel between the UK and the EU to work and study.

David Lammy, a possible future foreign secretary under that Labor administration, said earlier this month that if his side wins, he would “enter into negotiations” when the post-Brexit trade deal is reviewed in 2025.

A Labor government would be willing to discuss the EU’s youth mobility offer as part of talks to boost cooperation, he said, warning there would be no return to the bloc’s single market freedom of movement rules.

Starmer has also promised to “get a much better deal” next year and is seeking to agree a new security pact with the EU.

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