Brexit talks ‘going backwards more than forwards’ – Barnier

Following the latest round of talks between the EU and the UK this week, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said that “too often, it felt as if we were going backwards more than forwards”.

In July, Barnier said that a trade deal with the UK seemed “unlikely” and he has now reiterated this a month later.

He added that he is “concerned” this week, particularly about fisheries and a level playing field, following the latest negotiations.

“At this stage, an agreement between the UK and the EU seems unlikely. I simply do not understand why we are wasting valuable time,” he said.

“The need for a level playing field is not going to go away – it’s about finding agreement between sovereign parties on the rules that will govern future trade.

We are asking for nothing more, but nothing less, than what Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed to in our joint Political Declaration last October, together with the 27 EU leaders.

“No international agreement was ever reached without the parties agreeing to common rules.

“And, I can predict with absolute certainty, this will also be the case of trade agreements between the UK and other partners in the future.”

Apart from the question of a level playing field, there are still “many other areas where progress is needed” according to the EU, including: fisheries; governance; law enforcement; and mobility and social security coordination.

Barnier added that while there was some progress made on energy cooperation among other issues, it “too often felt as if we were going backwards more than forwards”.

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

“I simply do not understand why we are wasting valuable time.”

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