The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has told member state envoys that a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK is still possible during a closed-door meeting, not minding bemoaning the prospect of an agreement being signed.
The comments come after the latest round of negotiations last week are in contrast to his downbeat public assessment around Britain’s stubborn positions on fisheries and the so-called “level-playing field” guarantees of fair competition.
A source present at the meeting where Mr Barnier made the comment told Reuters: “I remain confident that a balanced and sustainable deal remains possible, even if less ambitious.” He added the UK now seems more interested in pursuing only a “low-quality, low-profile” deal.
Although Brussels has continued to move for a wide-ranging agreement in one comprehensive treaty, the UK still maintained it wants a simpler free trade deal and separate agreement on several other issues.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator said a recent meeting with Boris Johnson had convinced him the Prime Minister does still want a deal, despite insisting the UK was prepared for the prospect there might not be a deal at all
The negotiation talks have prolonged as Brussels is refusing to back down on several issues, with the EU’s demanding that its fishermen should have access to British waters after Brexit which seems to be a major set back to sealing a deal.
Mr Barnier said while the EU finally recognises Britain’s desire to be an independent coastal state, it is “simply unacceptable” for the UK to demand “near-total exclusion of EU fishing vessels from UK waters”.
However, the Brussels negotiator admitted that there hasn’t been any progress over the level-playing field, and has accused the UK of refusing to commit to maintaining high standards and avoiding undercutting the bloc in areas such as climate, environment, labour and social law.
Britain has maintained its stand for no jurisdiction for the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over its laws, and Mr Barnier has acknowledged “no role for the European Court of Justice in the UK” was one of Mr Johnson’s three red lines.
“We have tried to understand how these three red lines can be squared with our commitment to a comprehensive new partnership.
“We made progress towards the objective of a comprehensive and single institutional framework, which must include robust enforcement mechanisms,” he said.
The UK and EU will be continuing their informal talks on a post-Brexit trade deal in London today, after dinner on Monday evening between negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier.
Intense negotiations between the two sides have been ongoing for several weeks in a desperate attempt to strike a deal before the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020.
Scotland is attempting to stay linked with Europe by incorporating a charter which will force Scottish ministers to give councils additional powers. A new Member’s Bill will aim to incorporate the European Charter of Local Self-Government into Scots law.
The Charter, which was created in 1985 by the Council of Europe and ratified by the UK in 1997, sets out 10 principles to protect the basic powers of local authorities.
The Charter commits Governments to apply basic rules guaranteeing the political, administrative and financial independence of local authorities.
It provides the principle and authority of local self-government shall be recognised in-laws and that council are to be elected by members of the public.