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UK Political News and Opinion

“No substantial progress” in fourth round of Brexit negotiations

3 min read
5 June 2020 | UK NEWS

The fourth round of negotiations between the UK and EU regarding a post-Brexit trade deal has come to an end this afternoon.

Michel Barnier, the EU’S Chief Negotiator, said that these latest talks have contained “no significant progress”. The previous round of talks were also not considered to be productive, with the UK’s negotiating team saying that “very little progress has been made”.

Barnier said in his statement after these past round of talks: “My responsibility – under the authority of President Ursula von der Leyen – as Union negotiator, is to tell you the truth. And the truth is that there was no substantial progress.

“On fisheries, the United Kingdom did not show any real willingness to explore other approaches than zonal attachment on quota sharing. It also continues to condition access to its waters to an annual negotiation – which is technically impossible for us. Whereas the EU wants to build a more stable economic partnership.

“On the level playing field, we didn’t make any progress on these rules of economic and commercial fair play, despite choosing to focus this week on issues that should have been more consensual, such as non-regression mechanisms on social and environmental standards, climate change, taxation or sustainable development.”

He added: “On all these points, we are asking for nothing more than what is in the Political Declaration.”

He also added that the door is still open for a Brexit transition deal: “The UK has refused to extend the transition period to allow for more time for negotiations.

“From our side, as indeed was already pointed by President Von der Leyen we have always been open to extending this period by one or two years. It’s possible and written into the agreement. Our door is still open to that end. However, if there is no joint decision to such an extension, as is the case now, if there is no change, the UK will leave the Single Market and the customs union on December 31.”

On the other hand, the UK’s Chief Negotiator David Frost said that although the progress was “limited”, the tone had been “positive”.

He said: “Progress remains limited but our talks have been positive in tone. Negotiations will continue and we remain committed to a successful outcome.

“We are now at an important moment for these talks. We are close to reaching the limits of what we can achieve through the format of remote formal rounds. If we are to make progress, it is clear that we must intensify and accelerate our work. We are discussing with the Commission how this can best be done.

“We need to conclude this negotiation in good time to enable people and businesses to have certainty about the trading terms that will follow the end of the transition period at the end of this year, and, if necessary, to allow ratification of any agreements reached.

“For our part we are willing to work hard to see whether at least the outline of a balanced agreement, covering all issues, can be reached soon. Any such deal must of course accommodate the reality of the UK’s well-established position on the so-called ‘level playing field’, on fisheries and the other difficult issues.”

Mr Barnier also expressed his hope for the resumption of talks in person in the near future, saying: “I also hope we’ll be able to start meeting face-to-face again by the end of June, which is when the next timeline is supposed to be.”

There is due to be a summit in a few weeks’ time, to be attended by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU President Ursula Von der Leyen, which is seen as crucial to defining the next step of proceedings. We will bring you further updates on any progress from this.

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