(18 May 2020) – Talks on a post-Brexit trade deal between the EU and the UK appear to be on the brink of collapse after the chief negotiators from the two sides blamed each other on Friday for the ‘stalemate’ at the heart of the talks.
In a statement following the third round of talks by teleconference this week, which involved around 250 negotiators on either side, UK chief negotiator, David Frost, expressed regret that “we made very little progress towards agreement on the most significant outstanding issues between us.”
The main obstacles to a deal concern fisheries and the EU’s insistence that the UK commit to maintaining a so-called ‘level playing field’ that would guard against either side seeking to undercut the other. Frost pinned the blame on the EU, commenting that “we very much need a change in EU approach for the next round”.
However, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, told reporters that the ‘level playing field’ requirements come from the Political Declaration agreed as part of the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement from the EU in January.
With just one more round of talks, scheduled for the first week of June, before a ‘high -level’ meeting between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in mid-June to decide whether an agreement is likely before December, the prospects appear slim. (EurActiv)