Negotiations on a trade agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom have been suspended. The European negotiator Michel Barnier and his British counterpart David Frost announced this on Twitter. According to them, there are still major differences.
“After a week of intensive negotiations in London, the two main negotiators agreed that the conditions for an agreement had not been met,” said Barnier and Frost in a statement which they each distributed separately.
According to the main negotiators, this is due to ‘significant differences’ in terms of fair competition between British and European companies, monitoring of agreements and fishing.
Barnier and Frost are going to brief their bosses on the state of negotiations. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson then speak by telephone on Saturday afternoon.
In the last few days, there have been several signals that the Brexit negotiations would be on the verge of a breakthrough. However, there were also reports that this was not true and that there were still considerable differences to overcome.
There is the necessary pressure on the negotiations for a new trade agreement. The United Kingdom left the EU at the end of January, but is still complying with EU rules until the end of this year. If that transitional period ends without a new agreement being reached, the EU and the British will fall back on the WTO trade rules. This means that many products are subject to import duties.