EU digs its heels in: Brussels blames Britain for no progress – ‘Not our fault!’

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UK and EU officials ended talks a day early on Thursday with the bloc’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier insisting serious areas of divergence still remain. The Brexit trade deal talks marked the first to face discussions between the pair since the coronavirus pandemic began. In the fallout of the ending of negotiations this week, the Brexit representative of the EU Parliament and German MEP, David McAllister claimed the lack of progression was solely down to the UK’s negotiating position.

Speaking to Web.De, the MEP said: “I think the Tories’ European policy is very unfortunate.

“Brexit is and remains a historical mistake for me, but we have to accept the reality.

“In the upcoming rounds of negotiations, the British government should make it clear whether it is politically willing to reach an agreement by the end of October.

“The EU and the Member States are preparing in parallel for a UK exit from the single market and customs union without an agreement.

“Not doing that would be negligent.

“The responsibility is now clearly on the UK side.

“So far, it was not because of the European Union that there wasn’t any progress.”

Crucially, there are still four areas of divergence between the two sides: fisheries, the level playing field, judicial cooperation in criminal matters and governance.

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There have also been disagreements over access to the single market for UK financial services and data-sharing.

Chiefly, the level playing field has been stated as one of the EU’s main demands.

Brussels wants the UK to adhere to certain rules and regulations in order to maintain fair competition between the two sides.

This issue also trickles down into the concept of state aid which is an advantage granted by public authorities through state resources on a selective basis to any organisation.

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On judicial cooperation, the UK has insisted the European Court of Justice cannot have any role in the British judicial system.

Although Mr Barnier has hinted there could be room to compromise on fisheries, UK officials have demanded Britain be free of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

The CFP has long been labelled as unfair for British fisherman as it allows EU boats equal access to the bloc’s economic zone.

Due to the UK’s large coastal area in comparison to other states, some have stated European fisherman benefit more from the policy.

The EU wants a single agreement on the governance on the future relationship of the treaty while the UK has insisted there must be multiple agreements.

On the matter, Mr Johnson told the LBC today: “I’m not remotely disrespectful of Michel or the EU system, which I know well and understand deeply.

“I just don’t think that it’s right for us to proceed on the basis of the European Court of Justice continuing to arbitrate in the UK or us continuing to have to obey EU laws even when we are out of the EU, or us having to hand over our amazing fish stock.

“So, we are not going to do those things. We made it very clear.

“We now need to make sure we get a good deal.

“I’ve had some very good conversations with friends and colleagues around the EU.

“I’m a bit more optimistic than Michel is there.”

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.

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