It is unlikely at this stage that the European Union and the United Kingdom would reach a post-Brexit trade deal, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says on Thursday.
The United Kingdom officially left the EU on 31 January, but the country has until the end of a transition period, set for 31 December, to conclude a trade agreement with the EU.
At the end of a new round of negotiations in London, Barnier stressed that no progress had been made on two crucial issues: fair competition and fisheries.
“By its current refusal to commit to open and fair competition and to a balanced agreement on fisheries, the UK makes a trade agreement, at this point, unlikely,” Barnier said, adding that “until the very last day of this negotiation and despite the current difficulties the EU will remain engaged, constructive, and respectful.”
“It is unfortunately clear that we will not reach in July the early understanding on the principles underlying any agreement that was set as an aim,” Barnier’s British counterpart David Frost said. “Considerable differences remain in the most difficult areas.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had initially wanted to conclude the negotiations by the end of July, believing that there was no point in continuing the discussions until the autumn.
Should the EU and the UK fail to reach an agreement, only World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, which include high tariffs, would apply from January 2021.
The Brussels Times