UK playing ‘detrimental poker game’ with EU on Brexit talks, says Senior MEP

David McAllister, who chairs the European Parliament’s UK coordination group, told this website that time is running out on reaching an agreement by end of October deadline.
European Parliament Audiovisual

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

24 Aug 2020

McAllister warned that the European Parliament “needs time to scrutinise the (Brexit) agreement before giving its consent”.

He also stressed that “the end of October remains the solid deadline” by which an agreement must be made by the two sides in order for any deal to be assessed by MEPs.

His comments come after the seventh formal round of post-Brexit future relationship talks between the UK and the EU again ended deadlocked on Friday with each side blaming the other for lack of progress.

“At this stage an agreement between the UK and the EU remains unlikely,” said EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier. “I simply do not understand why we are wasting valuable time.”

State aid and fisheries appear to be the two areas that remain contentious in the negotiations. Both sides are now heading for a potential October clash, with a deadline having been set for that month to conclude a deal.

In his assessment of the current state of the talks, McAllister told this website, “Unfortunately, the past weeks have shown few results. Another month has passed without any meaningful progress. Losing precious time now in the hope of getting a better deal in a last-minute poker game is not helpful, and potentially very detrimental for both sides.”

“Unfortunately, the past weeks have shown few results. Another month has passed without any meaningful progress. Losing precious time now in the hope of getting a better deal in a last-minute poker game is not helpful, and potentially very detrimental for both sides” UK coordination group chair, David McAllister MEP

The German centre-right EPP group MEP went on, “We only have a few weeks ahead of us. The EU is not gambling and has no incentive to do so. I reiterate that the European Parliament needs time to scrutinise the agreement before giving its consent”.

“The end of October remains the solid deadline for starting to ratify the agreement by the end of the year. Parallel progress on all crucial topics (level playing field, governance, fisheries) is therefore essential. We do need fair economic and social conditions in order to preserve our EU model.”

He added, “This is not a technocratic position, but the expression of the European Parliament’s determination to preserve EU standards and achievements in many areas including environmental standards, for the sake and wellbeing of EU citizens.”

The MEP, who also chairs the parliament’s influential foreign affairs committee, added, “In parallel, continued engagement on implementing the Withdrawal Agreement remains as essential as time goes by, in particular, on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and citizens’ rights."

The UK has ruled out any extension to the current Brexit transition period, which expires on 31 December 2020 and if no deal is done, the UK will, from 1 January 2021, automatically revert to trading with the EU on World Trade Organization terms.

Next month, the talks return to London. However unlike normal visitors, the negotiating teams arriving in the UK from Belgium or France will not have to quarantine for two weeks.

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