Saturday

31st Oct 2020

EU warns UK to abide by Brexit political declaration

  • EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said he hopes to resume face-to-face negotiations (Photo: European Commission)

The EU and the UK both said on Friday (5 June) there was no significant progress in the talks on the future relationship - ahead of a meeting between UK prime minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen expected in late June.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier accused the UK on walking back on pledges made in the jointly-agreed political declaration - a text linked to the divorce deal that set out the framework of the future relationship.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"There has been no significant progress since the start of these talks," Barnier told reporters in Brussels.

"In all areas, the UK continues to backtrack on the commitments is had undertaken in the political declaration," he added.

The UK side sounded more positive, with chief negotiator David Frost saying that although progress was limited, talks had been positive.

This time both sides have refrained from the bitter accusations characterising the previous round of discussions in May.

Negotiators will hold talks again at the end of June or early July, and expect guidance from UK and EU political leaders when they meet later this month.

The UK has stressed it would not seek an extension on the transition period, so talks on the future deal will have conclude this year.

Barnier warned that taking all the ratification processes into account, a legal text needs to be ready by 31 October.

The French politician, however, warned that the UK needs to stick to commitments on preventing unfair competitive advantages, sticking to high standards with regards to state aid, competition, the environment and social issues.

"We cannot continue like this forever," Barnier said.

If the UK sticks to commitments Johnson has agreed to last year, Barnier said it is possible to find common ground during the course of the summer and autumn.

Face-to-face

The EU's insistence on sticking to the political declaration has irked London, which argues that since it is not a legal text, it should be viewed more flexibly.

"They [UK] hyped up the political declaration originally, and ratified it. Now they want to rip it up, and argue that it is not legally binding. This shows a level of reliability," one EU source quipped sarcastically.

Key hurdles between the two sides run deep, while trust has also been on short supply as London is seen as both backtracking and also slow on implementing the arrangements on the Irish border.

The EU wants guarantees to avoid dumping and the UK undercutting the bloc, but London rejects this - perceiving it as being dictated to by the EU.

The sides discussed upholding common standards, and how to increase those standards together, but with little success.

Britain also continued to refuse discussing foreign affairs, development and defence issues, Barnier said.

On fishing quotas, where the EU said an agreement is a prerequisite to a broad trade deal, there has been little progress - although Brussels seemed to try to move away from their original position.

EU countries, such as France, the Netherlands, Ireland and Denmark, which largely benefit from the current system, might nevertheless insist on a tough line.

Barnier reported some progress over human rights guarantees that would allow the UK and the EU to continue cooperating in law enforcement and judicial matters from 2021. But an agreement is still far away.

The EU side said the UK also does not want to engage in an agreement on counterterrorism-financing, and money-laundering, arguing that existing international rules are enough.

A major outstanding issue is how the overall agreement would work, and what legal links could be established between different areas of cooperation to ensure the deal is implemented.

Barnier said he hoped the negotiation at the end of June can continue face to face because it would "work better".

UK and EU blame each other for trade talks stalemate

The EU and UK accused each other of not being flexible enough and having unrealistic expectations in talks about the future trade relationship. The two sides have not moved on the key hurdles, including fisheries and workers' rights.

EU and Britain: 'New momentum' required for deal

British and EU leaders agreed that talks need to intensify to avoid an cliff-edge to the "economic Brexit", but there is little common ground yet in talks on how future relations should look like.

EU warns London over undermining Brexit agreement

While a new internal market bill reported to "override" the legal force of the Brexit withdrawal agreement on critical issues, the UK government also set a surprise 15 October deadline to agree a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Polish government rows back on abortion ruling
  2. EU threatens legal action against Poland on rule of law
  3. 'Several dead' after earthquake hits Greece and Turkey
  4. Hungary faces EU court over asylum restrictions
  5. Polish PM urges end to abortion protests to 'protect elderly'
  6. EU to fund cross-border hospital transfers
  7. Some 140 migrants drown on way to Spanish islands
  8. EU central bank preparing new rescue measures

EU warns London over undermining Brexit agreement

While a new internal market bill reported to "override" the legal force of the Brexit withdrawal agreement on critical issues, the UK government also set a surprise 15 October deadline to agree a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. Nice attack: EU urges world leaders to stop hate speech
  2. Europe is back in (partial) lockdown
  3. Gender equality still 60 years away, warns study
  4. I'm an 'election observer' - but what do we actually do?
  5. Deal in reach on linking EU funds to rule of law
  6. EU Commission's Covid-19 expert offers bleak outlook
  7. Belgium's collaboration with Sudan's secret service: my story
  8. What do ordinary Belarusians want from the EU?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us