Brexit Bulletin, 24 July 2020

Jul 24, 2020

EU indicates UK trade deal “unlikely” at this point, as round six of Brexit negotiations conclude

Following the end of the sixth round of ongoing Brexit negotiations on Thursday 23 July, chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier has highlighted that “the UK’s current refusal to commit to conditions of open and fair competition and to a balanced agreement on fisheries, makes a trade agreement at this point unlikely”. Speaking at a press conference following the meeting in London, Mr Barnier has said that while the discussions took place in a positive environment, the UK has not shown the same level of engagement and readiness to find solutions as the EU. He has also stressed that in order to avoid further friction, it is imperative for the two blocs to reach an agreement by October 2020 at the earliest.

The UK’s chief negotiator for Brexit David Frost, has released his own statement following the discussions as well, which described the bloc's proposals as failing to meet the UK government's demand to be treated as an independent country. He also reiterated UK’s position on the much-coveted Canada-style Free Trade Agreement they seek to agree on with the EU.  He also believes that an agreement can still be reached in September, and that the two parties should continue to negotiate with this aim in mind.

However, both sides have shown no signs of movement on the thorniest issues on the level playing field, or on fisheries. The key elements of the meeting are highlighted below:

A. Main areas of significant progress include:

  • Social security coordination and Union programmes
  • Comprehensive and single institutional framework, which must include robust enforcement mechanisms
  • Good discussion on police and judicial cooperation, even if divergences remain

B. Main areas of divergence remain to be:

  • Guarantees on a level playing field – including on State aid and standards – to ensure open and fair competition. This is a core interest for all 27 Member States.
  • A balanced, sustainable, and long-term solution for fisheries

The EU team is set to be back to London next week for informal discussions, and for the next negotiating round beginning on 17 August 2020.