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UK, EU resume talks on ties


The head of the European Commission’s working group for relations with the United Kingdom, Michel Barnier, at the European Parliament in Brussels, on Wednesday, February 26, 2020.


The European Union and the United Kingdom resumed talks on Tuesday on their post-Brexit relations, in which Europeans insist the parties must resolve their most important differences and reach an agreement by October.

Britain officially left the EU on January 31, the first country to withdraw from the world’s largest trading bloc, but remains in the tariff-free economic zone until the end of this year.

The parties disagree on state aid to companies, as well as on fisheries. The British government opposes the EU’s claims for long-term access to British waters. The two sides say they want to avoid the “no-deal” exit scenario, which would mean the imposition of tariffs and other trade restrictions.

Four days of negotiations are planned this week.

After a sixth round last month, European negotiator Michel Barnier warned that “we must reach an agreement by October at the latest for our new treaty to enter into force on January 1 next year.”

“This means that we have only a few weeks left and that we must not let them pass,” he said.

Britain wants a free trade agreement similar to the one the EU negotiated with Canada. The EU wants to ensure that the two sides apply similar rules regarding labor rights, the environment and government subsidies, among other issues, before discussing such an agreement.

Last week, British negotiator David Frost tweeted that London “does not aspire to a special or one-off deal. We want an agreement that is essentially a free trade agreement like the one the EU has agreed with other friendly countries such as Canada ”.