In the run-up to next Thursday’s EU summit, when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson would like to see a trade agreement, EU ministers reiterated that too little progress has been made and that more action is needed on the British side.
German EU minister Michael Roth said on Tuesday that the British should move in the areas of Fisheries, a dispute settlement committee and fair competition.
“We have reached a critical point in the negotiations and we are all under extreme pressure. We’re running out of time,” Roth said.
Michel Barnier, chief negotiator on behalf of the EU, has reportedly said in the house that although progress has been made here and there, the progress is far from sufficient. He said publicly that the EU will continue to use the coming days and weeks to reach a fair trade agreement. He praised the unity of the Union in the run-up to the summit.
At the same time, there is criticism of French intransigence in the fisheries sector. On Tuesday, the French EU minister Clement Beaune said that the EU should be ‘firm’ in the area of top priorities. It is expected that French president Emmanuel Macron will repeat this point later this week, despite the increasing pressure on the French to be more flexible. This is one of the reasons why, according to sources in Brussels, it is not possible for a trade agreement to be concluded this week.
Dominic Raab, the British Foreign minister, is making a different sound on Tuesday. He says that an agreement can be reached this week. He said to Parliament that the EU should be as flexible and pragmatic as the UK has been up to now.