Saturday

25th Sep 2021

EU tells UK to move if it wants post-Brexit deal

  • EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier stepped in for the press conference after EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen had to leave the meeting to self-isolate after one of her contacts tested positive for Covid-19 (Photo: Council of the European Union)

EU leaders on Thursday (15 October) called on London to make the "the necessary moves" in negotiations on the EU-UK future relationships, in order to have a deal ready for January next year.

The EU-27 also called on the EU Commission to draw up contingency measures in case there is no deal.

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

The heads of government talked Brexit for over two hours at their Brussels summit, and without phones in the room, as the negotiations now enter two critical weeks.

The EU wants to UK to move on the following issues: fair competition and state aid, fisheries, and governance of the future agreement.

"We are united and determined to reach on agreement, but not at any cost," European Council president Charles Michel told reporters online in a break of the EU summit, which is also dealing with climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I will continue intensive discussion in the coming weeks," EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said, who gave the press conference along with Michel after commission president Urusla von der Leyen had to abruptly leave the summit to go into precautionary self-isolation after one of her staff tested positive for coronavirus.

Barnier said that he will discuss with his British counterpart, David Frost, a schedule for talks, adding he will be in London ready to continue talks throughout next week, and offered to continue in Brussels the week after.

UK chief negotiator Frost then pushed backed against the EU's call for British moves.

He said on a tweet he was "surprised by suggestion that to get an agreement all future moves must come from UK". "It's an unusual approach to conducting a negotiation," he added.

British prime minister Boris Johnson - who had unilaterally set mid-October as a deadline for a deal - will now set out his approach to Brexit on Friday, according to Frost.

EU leaders are keen to secure an agreement on fair competition with the UK, the so-called level playing field, to protect European companies from UK businesses undercutting them once Britain starts to diverge from EU rules and standards.

"If you want access to our market of 450 million people, there must a level playing filed, there must be free and fair competition," Barnier said.

The EU had backed down from wanting the UK to copy EU rules and standards.

The bloc now seeks to include in the future relations "precise principles" on level playing field, "assurances of domestic enforcement", "a dispute settlement mechanism", and "unilateral measures" if the UK break the rules, Barnier said.

Fisheries remains another sticking point: a key issue for eight coastal EU member states which want continued access to the UK's fishing waters and stock.

"In no case shall our fishermen be sacrificed for Brexit," said French president Emmanuel Macron, when arriving at the summit on Thursday.

Barnier said EU countries know that they have to make a "reasonable" effort here to get a deal.

But he also added, that the EU seeks a "lasting, sustainable and reciprocal" deal, and that there has to be a fair distribution of fishing quotas.

Delete 'intensively'

With time running out until the transition period ends in December, which has so far regulated the UK-EU relations, London seems to be launching a blame game.

Frost said after the summit that he was surprised that the EU summit conclusions on Brexit no longer called for working "intensively" on the future relationship.

An earlier version of the summit conclusions included the word "intensively", which was removed in the final version which called for Barnier to "continue" negotiations.

Barnier, at the press conference, said he would negotiate intensively, and offered a timetable to do it.

EU summit to urge UK to make a move

EU leaders, gathering in person in Brussels despite increasing Covid-19 fears, will urge London to make a move in the tortuous negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal. They will also talks about climate, Covid and the budget.

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.

EU's Brexit move could end deadlock in talks

London was irked by the conclusion of the EU summit last week, which demanded that the UK moved on key hurdles on the substance of the negotiations - such as fair completion and fisheries.

Agenda

Brexit and EU budget in spotlight This WEEK

Tense post-Brexit talks in London, and EU budget and rule-of-law negotiations in Brussels, will continue this week, as EU countries battle the second wave of Covid-19.

News in Brief

  1. Italy arrests Puigdemont on Spanish warrant
  2. EU and US hold trade talks despite French wrath
  3. EMA to decide on Pfizer vaccine booster in October
  4. EU welcomes Polish TV-station move
  5. Ukrainian parliament passes law to curb power of oligarchs
  6. EU could force Poland to pay lignite-coal fine
  7. Report: EU and US concerned by tech-giants' power
  8. EU states sign 'transparency pledge'

Post-Brexit talks in last push until Sunday

The probability of no deal has increased as a last-ditch effort by British prime minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen did not bridge gaps.

Opinion

What a No Deal Brexit is going to look like

Research by the London School of Economics forecasts that a no-deal Brexit could be three times as bad as the pandemic for the UK economy, writes mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the president of the Committee of the Regions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed

Latest News

  1. Activists: 'More deaths' expected on Polish-Belarus border
  2. EU unveils common charger plan - forcing Apple redesign
  3. Central Europe leaders rail against 'new liberal woke virus'
  4. Yemen's refugees in 'appalling conditions', says UN agency
  5. VW emissions software was illegal, top EU lawyer says
  6. Sexism and the selection of the European Parliament president
  7. More French names linked to Russia election-monitoring
  8. Negotiations set for new, tougher, EU ethics body

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us