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In a familiar round of remarks, the UK and EU have reported continued deadlock on core issues following the seventh round of talks on the future UK-EU relationship. Once again, both sides reported constructive discussions and positive progress in some technical areas, but they also highlighted considerable differences on their respective red-lines. UK chief negotiator, David Frost, held the EU answerable for making negotiations ‘unnecessarily difficult’ by refusing to engage on broader issues and draft treaty text until the UK offers concessions on State aid and fisheries. EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, suggesting talks ‘were going backwards more than forwards’, said the UK must soften its position on these areas for talks to progress. Despite the deadlock, the talks will continue into September 2020, with negotiators on both sides still aiming to reach an agreement.
The EU has stressed that an agreement must be reached by October 2020 at the latest in order to ratify and implement the new treaty entering into force on 1 January 2021. Barnier expressed concern at the increasingly limited time available to finalise the detail of the legal terms, warning that as time passes ‘we are starting to take risks in terms of our ability to ratify a treaty by the end of the year’. Lord Frost gave his own assessment of the situation, suggesting that an ‘agreement is still possible, and it is still our goal, but it is clear that it will not be easy to achieve’.
Both delegations have agreed to remain ‘in close contact’ ahead of the eighth round of negotiations beginning on 7 September 2020.
For further details, see: LNB News 21/08/2020 41.
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