UK-EU trade deal crunch meeting this Thursday but reaching an agreement is 'more likely than not'

Mon 16 Nov 2020
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

The deadline of the UK-EU negotiations is proving difficult to pin down, with Politico reporting that the talks are likely to continue to stretch into late November. 

Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney noted that “the timelines start to get very tight - there are only 50 days left this year”.

Coveney added: “But if you are asking me to call it, I think we are more likely to get a deal than not.”

Boris won’t budge on post-transition plans as Cummings goes 

The UK’s chief negotiator in the talks with the EU, Sir David Frost, last week tweeted that “some progress” has been made in the protracted negotiations for the future trade relationship, but “significant elements” remain to be resolved. 

Talking about the UK’s call for its sovereignty to be respected, he said “that has been our consistent position from the start, and I will not be changing it.”  

Cabinet minister Michael Gove thinks the “penny is dropping” with the EU over UK sovereignty, according to the BBC

“One of the arguments we have always made is that by choosing to leave the European Union we became a sovereign equal - and it’s absolutely important that the EU recognise that,” Gove told BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg.

PM final call

The Prime Minister will make the final call though and senior Whitehall sources have told the Guardian that Johnson is “the least willing to budge” on the UK’s position. 

While the PM will be staying in Downing Street to self-isolate, chief adviser Dominic Cummings dramatically left the building on Friday. Some MEPs have voiced concern that last week’s drama at No 10 may have contributed to the ongoing stand-off, the Guardian reports. 

Both sides admit we have entered another ‘make or break’ week for the negotiations, according to the BBC

Thursday briefing

An informal deadline suggested by EU officials is the videoconference of European leaders on Thursday 19 November. If a deal has not been reached, Brussels will put forward contingency legislation to prevent a cliff-edge scenario in the event of a no-deal, EU officials said.

They say stretching the deadline even further makes ratification before the end of the year almost impossible, as both the European Commission and the European Parliament need to scrutinise it. The UK is comfortable if can move the deal through parliament more quickly as it does not face such issues as translation or requiring votes across member nations.

Lacking match practice 

However, the EU deal is just one of a number that the UK is currently progressing. Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said that the UK is struggling to rollover its trade deal with Canada because it lacks experience in trade negotiations, the Guardian reported last week. 

As the Brexit transition comes to an end, the UK government has the difficult task of lining up deals with key non-EU nations, including Australia, New Zealand and the US.

“There is an issue of not really having the bandwidth within the [UK] government to move forward on this,” he said. 

Trade with Canada is worth nearly £17.4bn (C$30bn), according to government figures. About 700 UK-based firms have a presence in Canada, and 1,100 businesses in the UK are owned or controlled by Canadians.