Intensified Brexit talks kick off with first face-to-face meetings since COVID-19 outbreak

It is hoped that the resumption of “physical” negotiations, as opposed to conference calls, will facilitate a speeding up of the deadlocked discussions.
Photo credit: Adobe Stock

By Martin Banks

29 Jun 2020

Details have emerged of the dates and locations of the meetings between the two sides, which will focus on a range of issues including competition regulations, including environmental and state aid rules.

Talks resume today with what is called a “restricted round” with a meeting of the two chief negotiators, Michel Barnier and David Frost and “specialised sessions.”

These will last until Friday (July 3) and take place in Brussels.


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Barnier and Frost and their teams will then meet again for more specialised sessions, this time in London, in the week of 6 July.

Similar meetings will be held in the weeks commencing 13 July (Brussels); 20-24 July (London); 27 July (London) and, finally, in the week of 17-21 August in Brussels.

With the UK due to exit the bloc on 31 December, Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister, says he wants to “put a tiger in the tank” of the drawn-out negotiations.

“With the UK due to exit the bloc on 31 December, Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister, says he wants to ‘put a tiger in the tank’ of the drawn-out negotiations”

At a recent high-level conference both sides agreed to step up the number and frequency of the talks.

Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, said in a tweet last week that the EU would have to move off some of its “unrealistic positions” if progress was to be made,” while Barnier has appeared increasingly pessimistic of late about a deal being done.

The European Parliament has again reminded both sides that it will have to sign off on any deal which, it says, has to be finalised by October in order to fit in with the legislative cycle.

Meanwhile, the opposition Labour party in the UK says that it “accepts the decision to leave EU and that will not change.”

But it says that irrespective of whether the UK strikes a trade deal with the EU it will seek “to strengthen relationships with our European partners” in areas such as security, energy and tax justice.

A Fabian Society organised event on Thursday was told that the party will seek continued cooperation with the EU because that was “in the national interest.” But Labour’s approach will be different to the Tories, the online webinar was told.

Labour is “just as patriotic as the Tories” but it believes there is more to gain working with our EU neighbours than working alone.

The event was timely as this week is the 4th year anniversary since UK voted to leave the EU.

Labour, it was said, will continue to hold the government to account over Brexit.

“The European Parliament has again reminded both sides that it will have to sign off on any deal which, it says, has to be finalised by October in order to fit in with the legislative cycle”

During the four years since the 2016 Brexit Referendum, the country has had three prime ministers, which, it was said, “is representative of the turmoil in UK politics.”

There is still a “huge” range of feelings ranging from those who do not understand why it is taking so long to leave the EU to others who still feel sadness and coming to terms with the result in 2016.

Others just wish the issue would go away, the event, “Brexit and the UK/EU: the view from the Left,” was told.

It heard that the Tory election manifesto was on based on three words - Get Brexit done - and the Conservatives said they would secure “an ambitious and wide-ranging partnership with the EU and protect workers’ rights.”

But Labour says that “already these commitments have been watered down and the Tories will have to choose between getting a trade deal with the US or a deal with the EU and, in doing so, protect UK industry.”

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