David Frost, the UK Government’s Chief Negotiator, said that progress “remains limited” but that the talks have been “positive in tone”. He also said that the UK remains “committed to a successful outcome”.
Mr Frost said that the parties must “intensify and accelerate our work” so that the negotiation can be concluded “in good time to enable people and businesses to have certainty about the trading terms that will follow the end of the transition period at the end of this year, and, if necessary, to allow ratification of any agreements reached”.
Mr Frost said that the UK is “willing to work hard”, but that any deal “must of course accommodate the reality of the UK’s well-established position on the so-called “level playing field”, on fisheries, and the other difficult issues”.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Negotiator, said that there was “no substantial progress”. Mr Barnier said that the EU is simply “asking for nothing more than what is in the Political Declaration”, and he accused the UK of backtracking on the commitments it gave in the Political Declaration.
Mr Barnier said there are still four main “sticking points”:
- free and fair competition, the so-called “level playing field”;
- guarantees protecting people’s fundamental rights and freedoms needed to underpin a close police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters; and
- governance of the future relationship.
Mr Barnier went through some of the commitments made by the UK in the Political Declaration, saying in relation to each, that the parties are “very far from this objective”.
Mr Barnier said that the EU could not accept the UK’s “backtracking” on the Political Declaration and that it will request “the full respect of the Withdrawal Agreement”. To read the Government’s statement in full, click here. To read Mr Barnier’s statement in full, click here.