UK-EU trade deal talk time extended by a month to break deadlock

Mon 5 Oct 2020
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

brexit negotiations

Negotiators working on a potential and pivotal UK-EU free trade deal have been given another month to overcome sticking points in the talks so far.

Prime minister Boris Johnson and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen spoke on Saturday by phone and announced an extension to negotiations on the future UK-EU trading relationship

Sufficient progress had been made in preceding weeks to justify pressing ahead with the talks, according to an assessment by both chief negotiators.

Negotiations have been given an extended deadline in the hope of resolution on areas that continue to block an agreement, namely fisheries, the issue of state aid and standards, and governance.

Meeting this week

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier will meet UK negotiator David Frost in London on Wednesday this week, with further talks scheduled for Brussels next week.

Addressing the European parliament on Friday, Barnier said he hoped a deal would be ready for ratification by early November.

While there is only a short time to resolve the sticking points ahead of a European Council meeting on 15 October, Frost said the UK team remained “committed to working hard to find solutions, if they are there to be found”.

Sticking points

On fishing, the UK has offered a three-year transition period to allow EU fleets to adapt to post-Brexit changes.

A paper on state subsidies has offered to outline principles but did not offer governance proposals to satisfy the EU that the UK will keep to the deal.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, is to hold talks with the EU’s fishing states this week to identify ways of overcoming disagreement on fishing rights, the FT reports.

Canada-style deal

Johnson has repeated that he hopes that the EU will conclude a Canada-style deal – one that eliminates most tariffs on Canadian imports, though not all   with the UK.

However, in a bullish BBC interview at the weekend, the PM maintained that the UK can live with a no-deal, saying on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday:

“I don’t want the Australian WTO-type outcome, particularly, but we can more than live with it. I think the people of this country have had enough of being told that this will be impossible or intolerable. I think we can prosper mightily under those circumstances.”

If a deal is not concluded, the UK will go on to trade with the EU on WTO rules.