The EU chief Brexit trade deal negotiator Michel Barnier has refused to comment on the possibility of a post-Brexit trade deal before the end of the transition period as the major issues; fishery and common standards continue to stall talks.
Mr Michel hinted he will be heading to London for one-on-one negotiations with David Frost who represents the UK government on the negotiation table today’s evening. Meanwhile, Mr Barnier hinted a private meeting of EU27 ambassadors recently that he wasn’t certain if he will be able to secure a deal because of disputes over post-Brexit fishing rights and common standards.
A Brussels source confirmed that their negotiator “wasn’t particularly optimistic” over the chances of securing a deal, with another source saying, “Barnier said a deal remains difficult”.
Mr Barnier said, “The same significant divergences persist. Travelling to London this evening to continue EU-UK talks with David Frost and team,” after hinting previously that the UK is still not willing to drop its demands for full control over UK coastal waters and a huge quota boost for the country’s fishermen.
He, however, feels that the EU must compromise on its hardline demands in ever it wants to commit to tough competition rules, with one EU diplomat saying the stand-off over fisheries and state aid rules meant the talks are “completely stuck”.
Mr Barnier who had initially warned his UK counterpart he was not going to travel to London again unless a deal was in sight after his frustration over how talks have continued to stall later decided he was heading to London this evening.
Mr Barnier is expected to brief the EU fisheries ministers and the European Parliament’s Brexit committee on the state of play before travelling to London to meet resolute British officials who have insisted they will not cave into EU demands over the weekend in order to clinch a deal.
Downing Street said it trusts that its negotiators will stick to their terms to take back control of the country’s laws, borders and fishing waters, with a UK source saying, “We’ve been clear all along about our fundamental principles and we are working hard to find a deal that meets them.”
Meanwhile, Eurocrats have warned in advance that if a deal isn’t secured by next Wednesday then it won’t be able to be fully ratified by the European Parliament.