The U.K. called on the European Union to show “political movement” if the two sides are to reach a deal that stops the country crashing out of the bloc at without a trade agreement.
Brussels needs to modify its demands on fisheries access and regulations meant to ensure a level playing field between the EU’s single market and the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman told reporters on Monday.
“All we are seeking is an agreement based on precedent,” James Slack said on a conference call. The British government is “ready to keep talking, but that doesn’t make us any more likely to agree” if Brussels doesn’t change its position, he said. “There will need to be a political injection on the EU side.”
Slack’s comments show a growing impatience in Downing Street with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, after the second round of trade negotiations last week made almost no progress. The U.K. looks increasingly likely to exit the Brexit transition period at the end of December without a trade deal, spelling disruption for businesses already grappling with the coronavirus crisis.
Brexit Talks Marred by Accusation U.K. Is Running Down the Clock
On Friday, Barnier accused the U.K. of failing to engage “substantially” in several key areas, while refusing to extend the deadline to reach a deal. The U.K. argues it is negotiating as a sovereign equal with the EU — an idea dismissed by Barnier, who said “the reality of this negotiation” is that is it one between a market of 66 million consumers and the EU’s 450 million.
The U.K. argues it isn’t prepared to consent to demands the EU hasn’t made of other countries — including measures to stop U.K. businesses undercutting their European rivals and continued access for EU fishing boats to U.K. waters, a system London argues is unfair because it allows EU boats to catch more in British waters than domestic vessels.
Failure to strike an accord by Dec. 31 would mean the return of tariffs and quotas as well as the imposition of bureaucratic barriers for businesses.
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