Brexit talks end early as EU, Britain say big differences remain

Andrew Cummings
July 6, 2020

Trade talks between Westminster and Brussels ended a day earlier than expected this week with substantial differences between the two capitals remaining on many issues.

In recent weeks, European Union officials had hinted that their position requiring the United Kingdom to stick to European Union state aid rules and social and environmental standards, and keep to the provisions of the Common Fisheries Policy could be softened in return for compromise from the United Kingdom side.

Differences also remain on the role of the European Court of Justice, as the United Kingdom insists it will not be bound by its jurisdiction. The rules, created to ensure fair competition between the two sides, are one of the biggest points of contention in the talks.

The EU is now looking for the make similar conciliatory moves, including accepting that the entire agreement must have a single dispute resolution structure.

And German Chancellor Angela Merkel said upon taking over help of the EU's rotating presidency Wednesday that both her country and the 27-nation bloc "should prepare for the case that an agreement is not reached".

In a statement released after talks broke up on Thursday, Barnier said "an agreement is possible and in everyone's interest", and underlined that he had taken on board the U.K.'s red lines on "no role for the European Court of Justice in the United Kingdom, no obligation for the continue to be bound by EU law, and an agreement on fisheries that shows Brexit makes a real difference".

"Despite signs of progress, we still do not expect a deal in time for the year-end. It is a chance to have some further discussions to see what progress might be made", the spokesman said, describing this week's coming round of talks as more informal in nature.

"The negotiations have been comprehensive and useful", Britain said in a statement.

Frost. has set out. that while the talks continue to be constructive there are still significant differences between us.

London and Brussels are supposed to agree on new trade terms in the meantime that prevent ties from reverting to the minimum standards - and accompanying high tariffs and quotas - of the World Trade Organisation.

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