UK reportedly plans to release all documents on "EU threats" in post-Brexit trade talks

UK reportedly plans to release all documents on "EU threats" in post-Brexit trade talks
# 16 May 2020 11:40 (UTC +04:00)

The British government is due to publish all the documents pertaining to the latest round of the Brexit trade talks between London and Brussels which allegedly reveal a spate of EU threats made against the UK during the negotiations, APA reports citing Sky News.

UK's chief negotiator David Frost was "very downbeat today about any progress that has been made".

"The British side say they are going to publish all of their documents now, the Europeans have already done that. They are frankly still arguing about the arguments. In terms of actual concrete progress towards a deal, very little seems to have been achieved", Parsons added.

He asserted that the developments may "raise the spectre of the UK leaving at the end of this year with no trading agreement for next year and the years beyond".

The remarks were preceded by Frost expressing regret over the sides making "very little progress towards agreement on the most significant outstanding issues between us".

"It is very clear that a standard Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, with other key agreements on issues like law enforcement, civil nuclear, and aviation alongside, all in line with the Political Declaration, could be agreed without major difficulties in the time available", Frost pointed out.

He also bemoaned the fact that the EU is seeking to adhere to "an ideological approach which makes it more difficult to reach a mutually beneficial" deal, adding that "we very much need a change in EU approach".

According to Britain's chief negotiator, "the major obstacle to this is the EU's insistence on including a set of novel and unbalanced proposals on the so-called 'level playing field' which would bind this country to EU law or standards".

Frost also said that clinching fishing arrangements was another pressing issue during the talks and that despite the sides having "had useful discussions on fisheries on the basis of our draft legal text, the EU continues to insist on fisheries arrangements and access to UK fishing waters in a way that is incompatible with our future status as an independent coastal state".

"We are fully committed to agreeing fishing provisions in line with the Political Declaration, but we cannot agree arrangements that are manifestly unbalanced and against the interests of the UK fishing industry", he emphasised.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier, for his part, warned that the bloc would never agree to a trade deal with the UK without "level playing field" guarantees or a "balanced" fisheries deal.

Barnier said that he was "not optimistic" about concluding an agreement, urging the UK "to be more realistic" so that progress in the trade talks can be made.

"It will have to move beyond this lack of understanding and, no doubt, it will have to change strategy. You cannot have the best of both worlds [in the agreement]", he underlined.

The comments followed the resumption of the UK-EU trade talks on Monday, with both sides remaining at odds over key issues but under pressure to make progress ahead of an EU-UK summit scheduled for next month.  

The UK wants to secure a trade agreement, prioritising issues such as air transport, energy, and law enforcement, while Brussels is pushing for a deal regarding access to the UK's fishing waters, something that was earlier rejected by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Although the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down negotiations, the UK government stressed that they would not agree to an extension to the transition period, due to end on 31 December, even if the EU requests one.