LONDON / UK – Britain and the European Union clashed on Thursday over a free trade agreement, Brussels sees as “impossible” but London hopes to reach it by September.
European Union official Brexit negotiating with Michel Barnier and British Prime Minister David Frost’s adviser were spotted at the start of the first Brexit trade talks meeting between the EU and the United Kingdom, in Brussels, Belgium on March 2, 2020. Since Britain left bloc in January, negotiations on agreement trading and other future commitments have been reminded, both sides blaming the other for failing to relax before the end of the transition period towards the end of the year.
Those cases escalated after a recent round, with EU spokesman Michel Barnier saying London had shown no intention of violating the funeral and its British counterpart David Frost described the bloc’s proposals as a failure to meet the government’s need for autonomy.
But the two sides agreed on one thing: there was no major stumbling block in co-operation with the guarantee of fair competition – a field called level play – or in fishing.
Without an agreement to govern future futures, some companies fear costly disruption and cross-border disruption from next year, which would come at a time when many already have a problem with the impact of coronavirus complications.
“With its current refusal to commit to open and unequal competition and the fishery agreement, the UK is entering into a trade agreement – for now – almost,” Barnier told a news conference after a series of talks in London. The EU speaks equally of a split or a split – a UK official. Britain is working ‘hard’ to try to reach an EU agreement – a key UK negotiator
“Response time is fast running out,” he said. “If we do not reach an agreement on our future cooperation, there will be more conflict.”
“THE WAYS OF CONFIDENCE”
Frost was simply speaking, saying “big gaps” are still going on but added: “Despite all the difficulties, due to the work we did in July, my assessment is that an agreement can still be reached in September and that we should continue to discuss this goal in mind.”
Top EU officials say they only expect a split in late August or September, but some have also expressed concern that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson could hold elections. Both sides say they want to protect the trade agreement before the end of the transition, and while they can break the gap in fishing and competition positions, both Barnier and Frost noted progress in other areas.
“Looking ahead, there are large meeting places in many areas where we discuss and have a foundation and documents on which to base our work,” Frost said. Barnier also highlighted some progress this week on how to resolve any future disputes over the new EU-UK agreement, something he has repeatedly said is one of the biggest obstacles.
He added that the EU would not sign an agreement that would harm its fishing industry and that the parties were “far from” each other with a few weeks to go. Both negotiators seem to agree that an agreement can only be reached if the other party is broken. A UK official described the talks as equally close to a split or a split.
“Obviously we have to be prepared for all the consequences and we may not reach an agreement, but we will work hard to try to do so,” Frost said.