Brexit Bulletin, 7 September 2020

Sep 07, 2020

“Worried and disappointed.” The words used by EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier following the end informal talks in London with his UK counterpart, David Frost. Today’s Brexit Bulletin covers his comments on the UK’s reluctance to engage with the EU on key issues such as fisheries, State aid and dispute resolution. We also bring reports this morning that the UK plans to override some elements of the Withdrawal Agreement.    

“No trade agreement with the UK without credible framework on level-playing field and fisheries”, says Michel Barnier  

Following the end informal talks in London with his UK counterpart, David Frost, EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has stated that he has not seen any change in the UK’s position, and is “worried and disappointed”. Speaking at a webinar hosted by the Institute for International and European Affairs (IIEA), Mr Barnier said there was a “huge difference” between reaching a deal or no deal. A no deal would mean customs duties, declarations, and tariffs.    

In his statement, Mr Barnier outlined three major tasks of negotiation for this year: 

  1. Negotiating the EU-UK future partnership 

  1. Implementing the Withdrawal Agreement 

  1. Getting ready for changes at the end of the transition period  

The EU, Mr Barnier said, wants “a close partnership with the UK, provided the conditions are right. This is in everybody's interest. And in Ireland's interest in particular.”   

With his statement tailored specifically to address the impact of Brexit in Ireland and Northern Ireland, he referred solely to unique aspects such as:  

  1. Peace and stability 

  1. Application of Union Customs Code 

  1. Sanitary checks on plant and animal products   

Speaking on a trade agreement 

Mr Barnier reiterated his position that there will be no trade agreement between the EU and UK without a credible framework on the elements of a level playing field and fisheries.   

Addressing the future of the services sector 

He has deemed the services sector to be hugely important, and an area where the difference between a deal or no-deal will be felt the most. He also stated that a large part of the services negotiation (with the exception of financial services) will be covered if the EU is successful in striking a deal with the UK.  

On the chance of a no-deal Brexit 

Mr Barnier confirmed that his informal talks with Mr Frost were from a position of openness to lead to compromise. However, given the UK’s current position, he strongly believes that there remains a risk of a no-deal Brexit at the end of October 2020.   

Both the EU and UK negotiators are set to meet again for the resumption of formal negotiations in London starting tomorrow –Tuesday 8 September 2020.  Take a look at the full agenda here.

Withdrawal Agreement in jeopardy? 

The Financial Times has reported that the UK is planning to release legislation this week that will “eliminate the legal force of parts of the withdrawal agreement" in areas such as State aid and the new customs arrangements for Northern Ireland.   Eliminating customs arrangements in Northern Ireland could compromise the ability to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.  

The Withdrawal agreement as it is currently written says that the UK must notify the EU of any State aid decisions that would affect Northern Ireland’s goods market.  This new proposed legislation would suggest that the EU would have little ability to influence State aid rules in the UK.  

There are numerous reports that the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson will say that if no agreement is reached by 15 October, both sides should "move on". We will keep members updated.  

EU TAXUD release guidance on how to prepare for the end of transition period 

To assist businesses in effectively preparing for Brexit during the transition period, the European Commission has released a compilation of guidance in the area of tax and customs. We have summarised a list of them below. 

Relevant updated sector-specific stakeholder notices for readiness  

Guide and handy checklist for businesses conducting any sort of trade with the UK following the end of the Brexit transition period 

Ireland’s national Brexit contact points 



For all Brexit updates, visit our Brexit webpage.