Brexit talks resume in London for what could be final week
Crunch talks aimed at securing a post-Brexit trade deal between the European Union and UK will resume today in what could be the final week of discussions.
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his counterpart David Frost will meet again in London as they seek to hammer out an agreement.
With just a month to go until the end of the transition period, talks remain stuck on fishing rights, described by Dominic Raab as an “outstanding major bone of contention”.
But the UK’s Foreign Secretary said there was “a deal to be done” after the EU showed progress on the so-called level playing field aimed at preventing unfair competition.
Speaking yesterday, Mr Raab said this could be the last week of “substantive” negotiations and urged the EU to recognise the “point of principle” on Britain’s control of its waters.
He said: “As we leave the EU we’re going to be an independent … coastal state and we’ve got to be able to control our waters.”
Fishing rights as well as the governance of any deal and the “level playing field” have been the main stumbling blocks preventing the two sides from reaching a deal thus far.
But with time running short, the UK is urging Brussels to concede on fishing quotas so an agreement can be reached.
Without a deal, the UK will leave the single market and customs union on 31 December, and trade under World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms.
A Number 10 source said over the weekend that the bloc “must understand that we are not going to sell out our sovereignty”.
Mr Barnier and Mr Frost resumed face-to-face talks in the capital on Saturday after negotiations were paused earlier this month when one of the EU team tested positive for coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said: “We have been saying for the last number of weeks that this is the key week and we’re saying the same again this week.”
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said: “I think perhaps the difference is that the UK side are saying it as well this week. We are running out of time here.”