EU and UK call off face-to-face trade talks because of virus

17 Mars, 2020, 02:56 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • EU and UK call off face-to-face trade talks because of virus

If the draft is retained, the deal would also ensure both sides "authorise the fishing vessels of the other party to engage in fishing activities in its waters" according to agreed quotas.

Face-to-face negotiations on the future relationship were scheduled to be held in London next week but were cancelled because of Covid-19.

There is also an unspoken race to publish a comprehensive draft proposal as both sides seek to gain the initiative in a tricky months-long negotiation.

"We've sent a draft agreement on new partnership to EP (European Parliament) and Council for discussion", Barnier tweeted.

Meanwhile, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said on Friday he had sent a draft treaty showing an "ambitious and comprehensive" future relationship is possible for member states.

Barnier's British opposite number, David Frost, who is deciding when to to release Britain's alternative text for a deal, tweeted: "Thank you Michel Barnier for making clear the European Union will too".

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It has led to speculation that time for a trade deal will run out, forcing the Government to extend the transition period beyond the end of the year but a spokesman said there would be no delay under any circumstances.

"This draft FTA hasn't got past the French yet", said another diplomat, "But publishing an FTA that hasn't been negotiated always bears a risk".

"Barnier thinks it will show an advantage but it doesn't. If we do (publish), doing so before the United Kingdom is especially not wise".

This would have devastating implications for countless businesses and employees on both sides of the English Channel, hence the game of poker that the sides are playing.

"I am hearing from colleagues that the draft trade agreement is softer on fisheries than the mandate agreed by the European Union", one diplomat said. That document is likely to be far more limited in scope because Johnson is seeking a limited deal on goods trade similar to the one Canada reached with the EU.

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