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Michel Barnier and David Frost agree on three weeks to discuss Brexit trade talks

Both men are back at work after recovering from Covid-19.

Updated Apr 15th 2020, 4:25 PM

first-day-of-uk-eu-trade-talks-brussels David Frost and Michel Barnier pictured at a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on 2 March 2020. Source: Monasse Thierry/ANDBZ/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images

MICHEL BARNIER AND David Frost have held a video conference where a timetable for Brexit discussions was agreed.

Both men, the EU and British chief Brexit negotiators respectively, are back at work after testing positive for Covid-19 in March.

It had been planned that the UK and EU would engage in trade talks until 30 June, the date by which the UK will have to decide whether it is extending the period within which trade talks can take place. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had vehemently denied any suggestion that this timeframe would be extended; despite a global pandemic engulfing the first half of 2020, there is no sign that that approach is to change.

In a joint statement released this afternoon, the UK and EU has confirmed a timetable of dates in which talks will take place.

These talks will take place on the weeks commencing: 20 April, 11 May and 1 June.

Today’s call was expected to discuss the impact of the pandemic on the process.

Draft legal texts were exchanged on 18 March, with the UK proposing a free trade agreement and other mini-deals on aviation safety, air transport and civil nuclear industries as its basis for negotiation.

In a statement released this afternoon, the two sides said that they have taken stock of the technical work that has taken place, and described it as “useful to identify all major areas of divergence and convergence”.

Frost and Barnier also discussed the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement.

“They agreed that the proper and timely implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement was a key priority for both sides and noted that the Specialised Committees provided for by the Agreement, including on the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland and on citizens’ rights, would meet soon,” the statement said.

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The UK government’s attention has in recent weeks turned to dealing with the pandemic rather than Brexit; more than 93,000 cases of Covid-19 and over 12,000 deaths have been recorded in the UK to date.

Johnson was released from hospital over the weekend after being treated for the virus in intensive care.

With reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha and PA

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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