HomeInsightsEU chief negotiator Michel Barnier gives press statement on second round of negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and the EU


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Mr Barnier said that the goal of achieving parallel progress on all areas “was only very partially achieved”. According to Mr Barnier, the UK “refused to engage seriously on a number of fundamental issues”, which are set out “quite precisely” in the Political Declaration that was agreed with Boris Johnson. Mr Barnier said that the Political Declaration “must be implemented seriously, precisely and objectively. I regret to say that this is not yet the case”.

Mr Barnier noted that the UK has said that it will not extend the transition period after 31 December 2020 and said that the UK cannot do this “and, at the same time, slow down discussions on important areas”.

Mr Barnier identified four areas on which progress was disappointing:

1. The level playing field

Mr Barnier said that the reality of this negotiation is “to find the best possible relationship between a market of 66 million consumers on one side of the Channel and a market of 450 million consumers on the other”. A free trade agreement, with zero tariffs, zero quotas on all products, would mean “unprecedented access for the UK as a third country to this market of 450 million citizens”, he said, and the UK “failed to engage substantially on these topics”. He noted that his mandate states that “there will be no ambitious trade deal without an ambitious level playing field on open and fair competition”;

2. Governance

Mr Barnier said that the EU has proposed a single framework for both sides to “manage jointly and efficiently all areas of our future relationship”. However, the UK “continues to insist on a number of separate agreements, each with their separate governance arrangements”, which would lead to “duplication, inefficiencies and a lack of transparency”;

3. Judicial co-operation

Mr Barnier said that the UK “refuses to provide firm guarantees – rather than vague principles – on fundamental rights and individual freedoms” and is insisting on “lowering current standards and deviating from agreed mechanisms of data protection”, which “creates serious limitations for our future security partnership”; and

4. Fisheries

Mr Barnier said that on this “essential topic”, the UK has not put forward a legal text and that no tangible progress has been made. “The EU will not agree to any future economic partnership that does not include a balanced, sustainable and long-term solution on fisheries. That should be crystal clear to the UK.”

To read Mr Barnier’s statement in full, click here.