Resumed Brexit talks have ‘not lived up to’ call for more urgency to reach deal

Luxembourg MEP Christophe Hansen, a member of Parliament’s UK Coordination Group, said the meetings between the two sides have, so far, “not exactly lived up to the expectations of fresh momentum.”
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By Martin Banks

07 Jul 2020

Brexit talks restarted with the latest round on Monday, this time held in London for the first time.

They follow the UK Prime Minister’s recent demand for the two sides to “put a tiger in the tank” of their protracted discussions. The UK is due to leave the EU on 31 December when the current transition period ends.

But on Tuesday, leaked reports suggest that little progress has yet been made on thorny issues such as fisheries and the so-called trade level playing field.

Christophe Hansen notes that this is what was agreed as being necessary during the recent high-level conference with Boris Johnson and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“Time is now even more of the essence: there are about three months left to find a landing zone, to give enough time for the Parliament’s ratification, and Boris Johnson has unrealistically ramped up the pressure by speaking of a deal for July” Christophe Hansen MEP

The EPP member said, “I hope the meeting in London brings better tidings, and that the 'in-person' negotiation format can positively influence the process.”

He added, “Time is now even more of the essence: there are about three months left to find a landing zone, to give enough time for the Parliament’s ratification, and Boris Johnson has unrealistically ramped up the pressure by speaking of a deal for July.”

He hopes David Frost, the chief UK negotiator on Brexit, “can still be fully committed to the negotiations given his appointment as national security adviser.”

Hansen asks, “Is the UK at too many negotiating tables at one time? Do they have the capacity? Conducting multiple negotiations requires a huge concertation effort between different deals and sequencing, for example, GI protection in an EU deal versus American demands?”

“It is very worrying that the British government continues trying to toss the Political Declaration out of the negotiations” Terry Reintke MEP

“Why do we find issues such as public procurement in the UK's negotiation objectives with Australia whereas they are not discussing this with the EU? This is contrary to the Political Declaration. Is this undermining the UK negotiating position?”

Hansen adds, “I hope that the UK now has finally understood that the onset of the German presidency doesn't mean that the EU's position is going to be reversed – so I hope they weren't banking on that. We will stick to our guns, a deal can be done within the marge de manoeuvre that is included in the negotiation directives.”

Germany took over the EU presidency on 1 July and Angela Merkel, the chancellor, will address Brexit in a setpiece speech to MEPs on Wednesday.

Further comment came from German Greens member Terry Reintke, who also told this site, “It is very worrying that the British government continues trying to toss the political declaration out of the negotiations.”

“The whole point of the past four years was to find a Withdrawal Agreement and a Political Declaration that both sides could agree on. The Parliament’s position was and is clear: We stand by the Political Declaration, by the level playing field and by our goal to negotiate one comprehensive agreement. I see no reason to back down from something we already agreed on.”

Meanwhile, the Leave Alliance (TLA) - a group which argues that Britain made a “fundamental mistake” joining the EU in 1973 - said Remainers were to blame for the current state of Brexit negotiations, which could end without a deal.

The Alliance has long campaigned for Britain to leave the EU.

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