- The EU has hardened its stance for looming negotiations on a new deal with Britain, according to a draft seen by Reuters.
- Ambassadors of the 27 EU states are due to discuss the updated negotiating mandate at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.
The EU hardened its stance for looming negotiations on a new deal with Britain, from firmer demands for fair competition guarantees that would "stand the test of time" to raising the prospect of demanding the return of stolen cultural goods from London, according to a draft seen by Reuters.
Britain left the European Union last month and both sides are now talking tough ahead of the launch of negotiations of their future relationship which is due in early March.
They aim to agree by the end of the year on an agreement that would cover a raft of issues from trade to security to fishing to space and environmental cooperation.
Ambassadors of the 27 EU states are due to discuss the updated negotiating mandate at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday before it gets the final stamp of approval at a ministerial gathering later this month.
Changes from a previous version include the strengthening of the so-called level playing field provisions.
"The envisaged partnership should include an ambitious, wide-ranging and balanced economic partnership, insofar as there are sufficient guarantees for a level playing field," it said.
The 27 would also demand similar clauses for international maritime transport and other areas, the document showed.
In a jibe at Britain, where ancient Greek Elgin Marbles are on display at the British Museum in London, the draft document was also updated to say: "The Parties should ... address issues relating to the return or restitution of unlawfully removed cultural objects to their countries of origin."
The 27 have also stressed more firmly that they would be taking on their own any decisions on equivalence that would allow access for British financial services to the bloc's single market.