Progress ‘disappointing’ in post-Brexit trade talks, says EU

Friday, April 24, 2020

Progress in the latest round of post-Brexit trade talks has been “disappointing”, according to the EU’s chief negotiator.

Michel Barnier said the UK was refusing to “commit seriously” on several fundamental points and warned that the “clock is ticking” to make progress by June.

While Britain officially left the EU on January 31, it will remain aligned with the trading bloc until the end of 2020, as negotiators iron out the details of its departure during a transition period.

This period can be extended, but the deadline for doing so is June 30.

Boris Johnson has insisted he would not agree to an extension beyond 2020, despite warnings a trade deal may not be possible in that time.

Mr Barnier thanked the UK’s chief negotiator David Frost for his “professionalism, frankness and determination” during the second round of talks that took place via video link this week.

However, he said “progress this week was disappointing” in areas including the level playing field, fisheries and the role of the European Court of Justice, adding that tangible progress had only been “very partially met”.

“We need to find solutions on the most difficult topics. The UK cannot refuse to extend transition and at the same time slow down discussions on important areas,” he warned.

Two more week-long rounds of negotiations between the sides are scheduled, starting on May 11 and June 1.

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