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Brexit trade talks resume in Brussels

Officials from the EU and UK sides will enter into detailed haggling today and tomorrow.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier earlier this month.
The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier earlier this month.
Image: Kirsty O'Connor

THE UK AND the EU resumed Brexit talks yesterday evening over dinner between the two chief negotiators, with the two sides still far apart on key issues including fishing rights and competition rules.

The EU’s Michel Barnier sat down with his UK counterpart David Frost in Brussels to kick off a seventh round of talks aimed at forging a deal on relations following the UK’s exit from the bloc.

Officials from the two sides will enter into detailed haggling today and tomorrow before Barnier and Frost meet again on Friday.

The last round of talks, held last month in London, broke up with both sides ruling out a quick deal but voicing hope for agreement in the coming months.

Frost accused Brussels of failing to recognise Britain’s economic and political independence and described the gulf between the sides on some points as “considerable”.

Barnier retorted that the UK’s unwillingness to compromise on its red lines was making a deal unlikely.

Germany’s European affairs minister Michael Roth earlier this month urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government to be more “realistic and pragmatic” to break the deadlocked negotiations.

Britain left the EU on 31 January but remains bound by the bloc’s rules until the end of the year pending the outcome of the talks.

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If no deal is struck, ties will default to minimum standards set by the World Trade Organization, bringing higher tariffs and making onerous demands on business, which could weaken trade and dampen investment.

Brussels says the UK’s proximity and past membership mean it must abide more closely to EU standards than other nations if it wants open market access.

London counters that it should get the same treatment the EU has given other independent states that signed up to trade deals.

According to reports, British officials see an EU summit planned for October 15-16 as the last moment a deal could be reached with enough time for it to be translated and ratified by the European Parliament.

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AFP

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