Leo Varadkar has warned that if the UK fails to meet EU standards, its access to the European market could be threatened.
e Tanaiste said that if the UK has the power to deviate from EU regulations, it must “largely” follow EU rules where relevant.
Mr Varadkar also said UK access to the European market is “not unconditional”, as stated in the 1,246-page treaty.
He said the post-Brexit trade deal means UK businesses don’t have to pay tariffs or quotas.
Le Tanaiste told Newstalk: “It still gives them access to the single European market, a market of 400 million people, the largest and richest market in the world.
If they lower their standards or fail to meet them, that access to our market could be threatened.Leo varadkar
“They don’t have to pay tariffs or quotas either, which is advantageous for them.
“But it’s not unconditional. So what they agreed to is what we call a level playing field.
“They accepted a non-regression clause in everything but the name, so we said you can only have market access if you don’t lower your standards for workers’ rights, the environment, health and safety, product standards – all of those things.
“If they lower their standards or fail to meet our standards, that access to our market could be threatened.
“They have to largely follow European rules where they are relevant.”
Mr Varadkar said the UK had the sovereignty and the power to deviate from EU rules and regulations.
He added, “But if they stray too far, they lose market access and the truth is, lunar pull is not a bad analogy.
“You can’t get away from the obvious geography that Britain is in Europe, geographically, and if Europe is Earth, then Britain, which is much smaller, is the Moon.
“There’s no way to get Britain out of Europe, you can get Britain out of the EU, but not Europe.
“The reality is that when you are surrounded by a massive market on all sides, you will always have to be aware that this market has rules and regulations.
“There will be no tariffs or quotas, but there will be customs procedures so there will unfortunately be a lot of new bureaucracy for businesses, filling out customs declarations and also there will be checks on ports and airports, therefore costs and delays unfortunately for companies.
“But the situation could have been much worse if we ended up with tariffs and quotas.”
Mr Varadkar said very little will change when it comes to the travel rules for Irish citizens.
“They will still be able to travel freely in Britain and live, work and study there,” he added.
“Other Europeans won’t, but it’s a special arrangement we have because of the Irish protocol and the common travel area.”