In a newspaper interview on Saturday German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas described how talks on a post-transition period trade agreement are necessary as the EU seeks an extension to the transition period in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The UK will fall out of its status-quo transition in January 2021, either with a deal or without a deal, unless an extension to the process is requested by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Brexit trade talks resumed last month but have failed to produce any significant developments according to diplomats and officials.
Mr Maas told Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper: “It’s worrying that Britain is moving further away from our jointly agreed political declaration on key issues in the negotiations.
“It’s simply not on, because the negotiations are a complete package as it’s laid out in the political declaration.”
Mr Maas added that neither the UK nor the EU were able to outline a process for extending talks if a deal over trade is not concluded by January 2021.
He said: “The British government is still refusing to extend the deadline.
“If it stays that way, we will have to deal with Brexit in addition to the coronavirus at the turn of the year.”
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Friday the coronavirus pandemic had made an already difficult timeline for a British-European Union trade deal “virtually impossible” and that it would make sense to seek more time.
Britain and the European Union have been holding online versions of the trade negotiations to try and prevent an extension of the Brexit transition period, despite warnings that the virtual experiment is doomed to fail.
There have been Video conference calls held between Michel Barnier and the UK’s top Brexit official David Frost.
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Mr Barnier has said the EU was ready to negotiate any request for a delay.
But, David Frost, the UK’s top Brexit official, told him Britain had “no intention” of requesting an extension beyond the deadline of end 2020.
There will be further rounds of online negotiations on May 11 and June 1, with a further high-level meeting expected in June to review the progress that has been made.
Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, Britain has until the end of June this year to seek an extension.
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The UK and EU said in a joint statement that “the two sides agreed on the need to organise further negotiating rounds in order to make real, tangible progress in the negotiations by June.”
One source told the Daily Telegraph: “We all need to focus on the negotiations, not planning for an extension that we have no intention of asking for.
“This will be no easy task.
“There could be 100 officials on each side and each of them could be dialing in from different locations.
“It will be a challenge”.
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