Prime Minister seeks to accelerate EU trade talks and avoid winter of business uncertainty

Mon 15 Jun 2020
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is looking to galvanise the Brexit negotiations in his first direct call with Brussels about the future trade relationship since January.

He will call the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, today (15 June) to push for a trade deal to be agreed to over the summer.

The Prime Minister is looking for a deal by the autumn and is prepared to walk away from the talks if it isn’t reached, with the Telegraph reporting he does not want business uncertainty to continue into the winter.

The EU has said 31 October is the deadline for a deal to be agreed.

Phased checks

Boris Johnson’s interjection follows the UK’s confirmation that it is not seeking an extension to the 31 December 2020 deadline for exiting the Customs Union.

The UK also announced a phased introduction of customs controls on goods entering Great Britain from the EU from the start of 2021, with customs declarations only being required for all goods from July.

The EU has said it will not replicate the UK’s ‘light touch’ introduction of border checks, with the FT reporting it will enforce full customs and regulatory checks immediately after Brexit.

'Intensified talks'

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, on Sunday (15 June) told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show the trade talks will start “intensifying” this week, and the UK’s “first preference is to have a trade agreement with the European Union.”

When asked whether the UK would introduce tariffs, he said the UK “remained committed” to the “ambition” of zero tariffs, as well as zero quotas. 

According to the BBC, the PM and President von der Leyen will announce “a timetable of intensified negotiations this summer”, after their call today, including “some face-to-face meetings (Covid-19 permitting) in a declared attempt to break the deadlock”.

EU-UK divisions

According to the FT there remain four major areas of disagreement in the talks:

  • EU fishing rights in UK waters
  • EU demands for “level playing field” rules
  • The structure of security co-operation
  • The governance arrangements for the future partnership