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Wolves of Westminster

UK Political News and Opinion

Trade deal “seems unlikely”, says Barnier as talks close

2 min read
21 August 2020 | UK NEWS

Major doubts have been placed on the chances of an agreement between the UK and EU’s on a post-Brexit trade deal, following the conclusion of another round of negotiations.

Despite a spokesman from Downing Street saying earlier in the week that they hoped to agree a deal by September, the talks led the EU’s Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, to say he was “disappointed” and “concerned.”

The UK’s Chief Negotiator David Frost appeared to concur, saying there had been “little progress” on some of the major issues.

The major sticking points throughout the negotiations have been regarding the UK’s future fisheries policy, the role of the European Court of Justice and the so-called “level playing field”, which would align the UK’s standards to the EU’s.

Following the conclusion of this seventh round of talks, Mr Barnier said: “Too often this week it felt as if we were going backwards more than forwards.

“Given the short time left, what I said in London in July remains true: today, at this stage, an agreement between the UK and EU seems unlikely.”

David Frost remained hopeful for a deal, but was realistic as to the chances. He said: “As I said last week, agreement is still possible, and it is still our goal, but it is clear that it will not be easy to achieve. Substantive work continues to be necessary across a range of different areas of potential UK-EU future cooperation if we are to deliver it.”

He continued: “There are other significant areas which remain to be resolved and, even where there is a broad understanding between negotiators, there is a lot of detail to work through. Time is short for both sides.”

He finished his statement by saying: “We will continue to work hard to reach an agreement. Chief Negotiators and their teams have agreed to remain in close contact over the next two weeks before the next round in London in the week of 7 September.”

The UK is set to leave the Brexit transition period on 31st December, with the Government having already made clear there will be no extension to this.

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