Michel Barnier confirms July Brexit deal deadline ‘unlikely’ to be met

PUBLISHED: 12:48 23 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:12 23 July 2020

Michel Barnier at a press conference on Brexit; Twitter

Michel Barnier at a press conference on Brexit; Twitter

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The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has confirmed that Downing Street’s Brexit deal deadline of the end of July will not be met, and has said that progress must now be made before October.

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Speaking at a press conference in London after the conclusion of the latest round of negotiations, Barnier said: “In June the prime minister Boris Johnson told us that he wanted to reach a political agreement quickly.

“The prime minister also stated three red lines.

“Number one: no role for the European Court of Justice in the UK.

“Number two: the right to determine future UK laws without constraints.

“Number three: an agreement on fisheries that shows that Brexit makes a real difference compared to the existing situation.

“We have tried to understand how these three red lines can be squared with our commitment to a comprehensive new partnership as set out in the Political Deceleration signed by prime minister Johnson on 17 of October last year.”

Barnier accused Britain for the lack of progress: “We have followed constructively in line with the mandate given to us by the EU member states.

“However, over the past few weeks, the UK has not shown the same level of readiness to find solutions.”

Despite some positive developments in field of good and services, Barnier confirmed large gaps still remained on issues such as fisheries, the level playing field, and the role of the European Court of Justice after Brexit.

He said: “On fisheries, the UK is effectively seeking for near-total exclusion of fishing vessels from the UK’s water. That is simply unacceptable.”

Barnier said Britain was ‘unwillinging’ to break the deadlock over level playing field provision, adding: “On the level-playing field the UK still refuses to commit to maintaining high standards in a meaningful way. On state-aid, despite a clear warning in the political declaration, very clear, we have made no progress at all.

“This is all the more worrying because we have no visibility on the UK’s intention on its future domestic subsidy control system and regime.”

He said the EU and UK had until “October at the latest” to strike a deal or risk the imposition of quotas and tariffs.

“If we do not reach an agreement on our future partnership there will be far more friction. For instance, on trading goods, in addition to new customs formalities there will be tariffs and quotas,” he warned.

“This is the truth of Brexit... and I will continue to tell the truth.

“If we want to avoid this additional friction we must come to an agreement in October at the latest so that our new treaty can enter into force on January 1 next year.”

He surmised: “By its current refusal to commit to the condition of open and fair competition, and to a balanced agreement on fisheries, the UK makes a trade agreement at this point unlikely.”

His remarks came after the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost also confirmed the lack of progress.

In a statement, he said: “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 at the High-Level Meeting on June 15.”

He added: “We have also had constructive discussions on trade in goods and services, and in some of the sectoral agreements, notably on transport, social security cooperation, and participation in EU programmes. We have also continued to deepen our understanding of each other’s constraints on law enforcement.

“But considerable gaps remain in the most difficult areas, that is, the so-called level playing field and on fisheries.

“We have always been clear that our principles in these areas are not simple negotiating positions but expressions of the reality that we will be a fully independent country at the end of the transition period.”

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