EU must 'get real' about Britain's stance for trade talks to succeed

Trade talks with Brussels will collapse within weeks unless EU nations ‘get real’ about Britain’s stance, warns UK

  • Britain urges EU nations to adopt a more realistic approach to the negotiations
  • The UK want Brussels to have more one-on-one talks with the UK lead negotiator 
  • Michel Barnier, the EU lead negotiator, still wants to do a deal by Christmas 

Trade talks with Brussels will collapse within weeks unless EU nations ‘get real’ about Britain’s stance, the UK has warned.

Despite hopes that EU lead negotiator Michel Barnier wants to do a deal by Christmas, the hardline mandate given to him by member states such as France on issues such as fishing means his hands are tied.

Britain is urging Brussels to adopt a more realistic approach to the negotiations and include more one-on-one ‘political’ talks with the UK’s lead negotiator David Frost.

Britain urges Brussels to adopt a realistic approach to negotiations and include more one-on-one ‘political’ talks with UK lead negotiator David Frost (left), pictured with Michel Barnier

The UK side believe the EU is deluded if it thinks Britain is prepared to sign up to strict ‘level playing field’ red-tape rules, and continue to allow EU boats unfettered access to our fishing waters.

A Government source said: ‘The EU team are not used to the approach of the UK negotiating team, who will not put anything on the table just to keep talks going.

‘We’re ready to talk but there’s no point wasting time on proposals that don’t match up to the political realities.’

Secure talks held via Cisco’s Webex video software last week included more than 40 sessions with 100 negotiators on each side. 

EU lead negotiator Michel Barnier wants to do a deal by Christmas but his hands are tied by the hardline mandate given to him by member states such as France on issues like fishing

It has been claimed by some in the teams that this process is more efficient than face-to-face haggling, although both sides are looking at ways to have discreet off-the-record side chats remotely, as they would usually over a coffee or drink, to help break the deadlock.

A UK source close to the negotiations said: ‘The EU think they are the reasonable side, yet it is them who are seeking a bespoke – albeit unambitious – agreement.

‘All the UK are seeking is an agreement based on precedent, which respects the sovereignty of both sides.’

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