Barnier to sign lack of Brexit breakthrough on key points

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Michel Barnier is about to report on Wednesday that shut to 2 weeks of intensified Brexit talks have yielded progress in crafting an EU-UK commerce treaty however no breakthroughs on the principle sticking factors.

The EU’s chief negotiator will transient nationwide ambassadors and European parliamentarians tomorrow after 13 days of conferences wherein Mr Barnier and his British counterpart David Frost have sought to drag collectively the threads of a future-relationship negotiation, encompassing every part from commerce to preventing terrorism. 

Requested in regards to the state of the talks on Tuesday, a European Fee spokesperson mentioned there was “a number of work nonetheless to be carried out”. “Negotiations are persevering with on all of the completely different matters,” he mentioned. 

EU and UK negotiating groups have spent the past few days holding conferences in Brussels after switching from London in the course of final week. Conferences are happening in individual within the Belgian capital regardless of town being beneath a strict Covid-19 lockdown — the fee spokesperson mentioned that social-distancing precautions had been being noticed. 

EU officers confirmed that tough disagreements endured between the 2 sides. One individual briefed on the talks mentioned the 2 negotiating groups may take a break on Wednesday to mirror on progress. 

The expectation in London is that the talks will resume on the weekend within the British capital. “We aren’t anticipating a ‘white smoke second’ on Wednesday,” mentioned one UK official.

Lord Frost will replace UK prime minister Boris Johnson on the talks and is anticipated to say there’s “nonetheless fairly a strategy to go” to resolve excellent points.

Crucially, the EU and UK have to date been unable to bridge gaps on the query of EU fishing rights in British waters and on guidelines limiting state assist to corporations. 

“We have now not but discovered an answer on fisheries,” the fee spokesperson mentioned. An EU diplomat with data of the talks mentioned that each side had been nonetheless “a good distance aside”.

A French fisherman with a catch of mackerel. France is demanding continued access to the six- to 12-mile coastal zone around the UK
France is demanding continued entry to the six- to 12-mile coastal zone across the UK © Charly Triballeau/AFP

The talks on fish cowl a number of points: the divvying up of fishing rights for greater than 70 varieties of fish which are unfold between EU and UK waters; the precept of entry to British waters; and the query of what to do about historic rights that nations corresponding to France, Belgium and the Netherlands must fish near the UK coast.

The supply mentioned that France was demanding continued entry to the six-mile to 12-mile coastal zone across the UK — a politically tough concession for London until offset by massive wins on fish shares that different EU member states aren’t ready to concede.

France will not be the one nation involved — regional politicians in Belgium have threatened to show to a 17th-century treaty signed by Charles II to uphold their rights within the six- to 12-mile zone.

“The UK can’t concede that [access] besides probably for a fee in [the form of additional] quota that will be far too excessive for the remainder of the EU to just accept,” the diplomat added, explaining the bind that the talks had been at present trapped in.

A second EU diplomat prompt that the possibilities of each side reaching a commerce settlement remained “50-50” as talks on the essential space of degree taking part in subject situations for companies remained “gradual”, with neither aspect providing decisive concessions.

Brussels on Tuesday additionally confirmed that Britain had did not reply to a letter from the fee final month warning that the federal government’s internal market bill would violate final yr’s Brexit treaty as regards Northern Eire.

The fee spokesman mentioned Brussels was “contemplating subsequent steps”, together with shifting to the subsequent stage of the process — issuing an order to the UK to again down, a step recognized in EU jargon as a “reasoned opinion”. 

Ought to the matter stay unresolved even after that, then the fee may haul Britain earlier than the European Courtroom of Justice. British officers mentioned Brussels was warned upfront that the UK wouldn’t reply to the letter.

Mr Johnson has indicated he hopes to scrap the controversial clauses within the invoice by way of the profitable conclusion of negotiations with the EU on a commerce deal and the operation of the Northern Eire border.

The EU and the UK are nonetheless in talks on how you can implement final yr’s settlement, notably the answer for avoiding a hard border on the island of Eire. One EU official mentioned it was potential that the EU-UK joint committee in control of that work would meet subsequent week.

An individual aware of these talks mentioned that the negotiations on implementing probably the most delicate parts of the Northern Eire protocol remained “very, very gradual”, with the EU persevering with to take what the UK thought-about to be a very legalistic strategy.