Brexit trade deal ‘unlikely’ due to UK stance – Barnier

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said that a Brexit trade deal at this time is “unlikely” due to the UK’s current refusal to commit to “the conditions of open and fair competition”, as another round of talks has ended without any substantial progress on the matter.

The EU’s chief negotiator said:

“The EU has always insisted that any common partnership with the UK must include robust level playing field rules and an equitable agreement on fisheries.

“On these two issues, the UK did not show willingness to break the deadlock.

This means simply that by its [UK’s] current refusal to commit to the conditions of open and fair competition, and to a balanced agreement on fisheries, the UK makes a trade agreement – at this point – unlikely.

The latest round of discussions has ended with Barnier expressing difficulties the EU has had with engaging constructively with the UK.

He continued:

“Over the past few weeks, the UK has not shown the same level of engagement and readiness to find solutions, respecting the EU fundamental principles and interests.


“We are still far away [in negotiations]. Discussions took place this week in a positive atmosphere and I want to thank David Frost and his team for their professional approach.”

However, Barnier added: “The time for answers is quickly running out on important issues.

“We continue to believe the UK government want to find an agreement with the EU, because, it is simply in our common interest to cooperate and to address the main and very serious challenges of today.

“We are simply asking to transfer political engagement into a legal text – nothing more.”

‘This is the truth of Brexit’

Barnier said if an agreement is not reached, there will be “far more friction”.

“If we want to avoid this additional friction, we must come to an agreement in October at the latest, so that our new treaty can enter into force on January 1 of next year,” Barnier continued.

“This means we only have a few weeks left and that we should not waste them.”

If no agreement is made, Barnier said:

For instance, on trading goods, in addition to new customs formalities, there will be tariffs and quotas. This is the truth of Brexit – and I will continue to tell the truth.

Following the latest round of negotiations between the UK and EU, David Frost, the EU advisor to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, released a statement saying that despite constructive discussions on trade in goods and services taking place, there still remains “considerable gaps in the most difficult areas”.

He added: “We must face the possibility that an agreement will not be reached and we must continue preparing for all possible scenarios for the end of the transition period at the end of this year.”

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