The UK (UK) and the European Union (EU) have said this week that they will step up negotiations on their relationship after Brexit. Until now there has been little progress. These are the four biggest bottlenecks.
In the following four areas, negotiators have yet to find their way beyond major disagreements. Formally, this should be done before December 31, the end of the transition period that came into effect after the British exit at the beginning of this year.
A level playing field for companies
After that transition period, the UK will no longer be bound by EU rules on state aid to companies and European standards for the environment and labor rights.
If the British slacken those standards, British companies doing business in EU countries would have an unfair competitive advantage over European companies, which still have to abide by those rules, Brussels says.
The EU wants the UK to commit to rules and standards similar to those of Europe if British companies want to maintain their access to the European market. However, the British see this as a violation of their sovereignty.
The UK wants to fish in its own waters and sell those catches to the 450 million consumers in the European market.
However, European fishermen also want access to those UK waters, with prior agreements on how much fish they can catch there so they can plan their business.
It is difficult to find a compromise between access to the European market for British fishermen on the one hand and access to British waters for European fishermen on the other.
The UK police want access to various EU databases containing confidential information, such as DNA data. The EU wants legal guarantees that these data will be treated with the confidentiality required by European law.
Brussels also wants the UK to adhere to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). This protects human rights and political freedoms in Europe and enables any person who believes their rights have been harmed to take a country government to the European Court of Human Rights.
The EU and the UK must find a way to resolve future disputes. Although there are possibilities to establish an international arbitration body, the EU cannot have a higher judge than the European Court.
The British, in turn, do not want the rulings of an EU court to lead in disputes between the UK and the EU. They do not accept that the European Court has the final say in the interpretation of EU law.