Tuesday, 02 March, 2021


EU, U.K. Warn of Big Disagreements After Intensive Brexit Talks

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused to back down over the Internal Market Bill Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused to back down over the Internal Market Bill
Conrad Doyle | 06 November, 2020, 18:07

No agreement has been reached between the EU and United Kingdom on how to share access to fishing waters and markets, the European Commission has said.

One told Reuters Mr Barnier gave no timeline for an agreement or even any certainty that a trade deal between the 27-nation European Union and Britain would be clinched by a mid-November deadline.

The level playing field - measures to prevent United Kingdom companies from unfairly undercutting their European competitors - continues to be one of the most hard issues, Barnier told the meeting, according to people familiar with the discussion.

The level playing field issue is far from concluded, however, despite some progress, Ireland's Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Tuesday.

The report added that the customs office has made good progress on the issue but acknowledges that it remains "very high risk".

Any deal should be agreed by November 15 so it can be ratified by the European Parliament before Britain's standstill transition out of the EU expires at the end of the year.

But even then, Britain's government and businesses will not be prepared, the Institute for Government (IfG) think tank said, describing disruption as inevitable in January with or without a deal. "We are not there yet".

No 10 Downing Street rejected as "simply untrue" speculations that UK concerns that an administration led by Democrat Joe Biden might adopt a tougher stance on a US-UK trade deal could prompt London to grant more concessions to Brussels in order to get a deal done with the EU.

Brexit talks
Michel Barnier is to update the European Parliament on progress in the trade talks this week

British negotiators have won the victory over fishing rights as Michel Barnier has backed down as he will now water down the EU's demand over control of British waters.

The talks have often been bitter and plunged to new lows after Britain introduced legislation that would breach its earlier Brexit divorce settlement with the bloc.

The EU started legal proceedings against the United Kingdom at the start of October and gave Mr Johnson one month to formally respond.

With less than two weeks before the two sides say time runs out to get an agreement, solutions on access to British fishing waters and a level playing field for business continue to be elusive, Barnier told ambassadors of the 27 European Union countries, according to a person familiar with the meeting. Brussels said on Tuesday it would escalate the dispute.

"He was rather uncertain about a deal", said the senior diplomat who spoke under condition of anonymity.

In the event of an EU-UK deal on post-Brexit ties, there is an expectation that the controversial British bill will become unnecessary, possibly dumped by Johnson's government.

It said the government had also yet to appoint enough customs agents, despite their "vital" role in ensuring trade flows smoothly from next year.

Ideas for a transition period from 2021 to help square the circle have yet to bear fruit as the sides remain apart on the length of any such arrangement and what exactly would come at the end of it.

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