Home Britain Brexit: Face-to-face trade talks to resume in London

Brexit: Face-to-face trade talks to resume in London

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Face-to-face Brexit trade talks are to resume in London this weekend, EU sources have told the BBC.

In-person negotiations were suspended when the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier had to self isolate after a colleague tested positive for Covid last week.

There had been reports that Mr Barnier would not travel to London unless the UK changed its negotiating stance.

One senior EU figure suggested the talks could be brief.

On Thursday there appeared to be uncertainty over the in-person talks.

Asked on Thursday if they were expecting Mr Barnier to arrive, a Downing Street spokesperson had said “that’s a matter for the EU and a decision for them”.

Both sides are hoping to reach a trade deal before the 31 December deadline.

If nothing is agreed by then, trading between the two will default to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules meaning tariffs will be introduced, and costs on products could rise.

So far, the major areas of disagreement have been competition rules – where governments give state aid support to businesses – and fishing rights.

UK and EU try to keep their poker faces

Analysis by Nick Beake, BBC Brussels Correspondent

“The clock is ticking” quickly became one of the EU’s most popular maxims in its Brexit phrasebook.

It was first directed at Theresa May’s government in an attempt to spur them into action.

But now, with less than six weeks left for a trade deal to be agreed and ratified, the EU seems rather more sanguine about the passing of time.

It is determined not to be seen as rushing back to the negotiating table in London, once its negotiators emerge from their pre-cautionary self-isolation.

In fact, it was reported this week (and not denied) that Mr Barnier had told his opposite number that if the British weren’t prepared to budge, there was no point in him getting back on the Eurostar.

Few here in Brussels believe the EU would actually walk away at this stage, though. So for now, both sides try to keep their poker face as the deadline for a deal gets perilously near.

Mr Barnier is also due to hold a video call with EU fishing ministers on Friday – but EU sources denied a suggestion the meeting was “urgent”.

They claimed it was the latest, regular update to ministers from the member states who are responsible for fishing.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-55090861