INTERNATIONAL - EU-UK trade negotiations have so far failed to reach agreement on their three most persistent sticking points - the level playing field, fisheries and settling disputes - the bloc’s executive and sources from both sides said on Tuesday.
That comes after nearly two weeks of intensified talks to salvage free trade between the 27-nation European Union and Britain from 2021. The negotiations are in a final stretch aimed at sealing a new trade agreement by Nov. 15.
“We have not yet found a solution on fisheries,” a spokesman for the European Commission told a regular news briefing in Brussels. “We are not there yet, a lot more work remains to be done.”
One source, an EU diplomat following Brexit, said disagreements persisted over the divvying up of fish stocks, including Britain’s demand for annual quota negotiations.
“That’s where we are stuck. They haven’t moved beyond these items on fisheries,” said the person, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A British source also said there had not been much movement on fisheries.
Britain left the EU in January and the estranged allies have since been locked in complex negotiations to try to agree a free trade deal for when a status-quo transition period ends on Dec. 31.
Ireland’s Foreign Minister said separately on Tuesday he still believed the EU would get a deal with Britain, but added it might be too difficult to do in time to put it in place from the start of 2021.
Three EU diplomats also said the bloc’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, was due to debrief the 27 national envoys to Brussels on the latest in the talks at a meeting starting at 1330 GMT on Wednesday.
The EU diplomats also expected Barnier to announce good progress on agreeing a joint legal text of a future agreement with Britain on other elements, including social security.
The Brussels-based Commission also told the daily briefing it could escalate its legal dispute with Britain over its new draft law that would violate London’s earlier divorce settlement with the bloc.