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Phil Hogan hopeful of Brexit deal but says the ball is in the UK's court

The fourth round of Brexit trade talks ended a day early this week.

European Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan.
European Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive/PA Images

IRELAND’S EU TRADE commissioner Phil Hogan thinks that there will still be a deal with the UK on Brexit – but that the ball is in Boris Johnson’s court. 

Hogan made the comments on RTÉ Radio One’s Brendan O’Connor programme with Damien O’Reilly. 

“I still believe there will be a deal. The ambition of that deal on the European Union side is real. I don’t see the same ambition on the UK side, so the ball is in the UK’s court. If they want a deal, there is a deal to be done,” he said. 

The fourth round of Brexit trade talks ended a day early this week, with both sides warning that major differences remain. 

The meetings in Brussels were the first held face-to-face since the coronavirus shutdown, adding to hopes that substantial progress would be made.

This transition period comes to an end on 31 December, by which time it is hoped an EU-UK Free Trade Agreement, ratified by the EU and UK parliaments, will come into effect.

Hogan said that divisions remain between the two sides on issues like fisheries and the role of the European Court of Justice in dispute resolution. However, he said that the EU was willing to compromise and that it wanted to get a deal that could be approved by both the House of Commons and the European Parliament. 

“Boris Johnson has explicitly stated that he wants a deal, so we need to see movement on the UK side soon or else it’s going to be too late.”

If issues aren’t resolved, he said, there will be no deal by the time the transition period ends. 

“Very little has happened in the last few months and there’s a frustration on the EU side about the fact that the good faith in terms of the negotiations that’s required on both sides is not happening to the extent that it should,” Hogan said. 

“Not any old deal will do,” he added. 

Earlier this week, Hogan announced that he would no longer be contesting the race to be the new boss of the World Trade Organisation. 

“I had to make a choice about whether I was going to be involved in a long-drawn out process or do we clarify the situation,” he said. 

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“We need a global referee that is effective and efficient and that is a challenge I would have liked to take on,” he added, referring to the need to reform the organisation. 

With additional reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

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