Brexit: Frost and Barnier seek to break impasse in UK-EU trade talks

Brexit: Frost and Barnier seek to break impasse in UK-EU trade talks

UK negotiator Lord Frost will speak to his EU counterpart Michel Barnier later, as efforts continue to unblock talks on a post-Brexit trade deal.

Mr Barnier has proposed “intensified” negotiations in London this week to break the impasse in key areas.

But No 10 says there is no point talks continuing without a “fundamental change” to the EU’s approach.

Both sides are calling on the other to compromise ahead of a looming December deadline for a deal.

The UK has accused the EU of dragging its feet and failing to respect its sovereignty in the negotiations.

They are seeking an agreement to govern their trading relationship once the UK’s post-Brexit transition period ends in January 2021.

Key areas of disagreement include fishing rights, post-Brexit competition rules such as limits on subsidies to businesses, and how a deal would be enforced.

On Tuesday, the prime minister’s spokesman said Lord Frost would be seeking a “clear assurance” from his EU counterpart of a change in their approach.

The spokesman added the EU would need to show talks could be a “genuine negotiation rather than one side being expected to make all of the moves”.

Speaking in Brussels, a European Commission spokesman said it was “pretty obvious” both sides would need to compromise in order for a deal to be done.

It follows a summit in Brussels last week where EU leaders called on the UK to “make the necessary moves” towards a deal.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to urge business leaders to prepare for the end of the transition period in December, in a conference call alongside Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove.

By remaining in the bloc’s single market and customs union, the UK has continued to follow EU trading rules during its post-Brexit transition period.

This 11-month period is due to end in December, and the UK has ruled out seeking an extension.

Formal talks began in March and continued throughout the pandemic, initially via video link before in-person discussions resumed over the summer.

If a deal is not done, the UK will trade with the EU according to the default rules set by the World Trade Organization.

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