Back together again: UK-EU negotiations resume with trade deal 'within reach'

Thu 22 Oct 2020
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

Talks between the UK and EU restarted today after the UK accepted Brussels’ move to break the deadlock by intensifying the talks, the BBC reports

Following a series of phone conversations between negotiators Lord Frost and Michel Barnier, Downing Street said the pair had “jointly agreed a set of principles for handling this intensified phase of talks”.

Gaps remain

While both sides made positive noises, the UK statement said it was “clear that significant gaps remain between our positions in the most difficult areas” and it was “entirely possible that negotiations will not succeed”.

The UK ceased formal talks last week after Boris Johnson’s deal deadline of 15 October passed at the European Council summit and the PM urged the UK and its business community to prepare for no deal.

Pound jumps

Sterling reacted strongly to the news with the pound seeing its greatest jump in value since March as a result, according to the FT. With greater confidence of a trade deal, sterling rose 1.7% against the dollar, and 1.2% on the euro.

Announcing the positive developments yesterday in a speech to the Commission, Michel Barnier said a deal is now “within reach” and could be completed in the next two to three weeks, according to the Telegraph. Lord Frost has welcomed the “fundamental” change of approach from the EU. 

A series of daily, intensive talks is scheduled as the two sides work towards a deal by the EU’s deadline of the end of this month. Barnier said they would “seek the necessary compromises on both sides” in order to get a deal that “will be mutually beneficial to both parties”.

Weekend working

Simultaneous negotiations between about 200 officials will take place across all 11 parts of the proposed future trading relationship and on the basis of each side’s legal texts, which is a first for the trade talks, the Telegraph reports.

Politico reports that three phone calls this week between Frost and Barnier saved the talks. The UK government has published a new set of principles for the next stage of talks, which will include working through the weekend.