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Mr Barnier and his counterpart, David Frost, concluded Brexit talks a day early today as the EU’s chief negotiator admitted the areas of divergence still remain. Following negotiations today, Mr Barnier insisted the UK continues not to engage in talks. However, in a damning “indictment” of the EU’s negotiating strategy, pro-European group, Best for Britain, even hit out at the lack of progression in talks from both sides.
CEO of the group, Naomi Smith said: “The lack of movement in these negotiations is a damning indictment of both sides’ negotiating strategy.
“It is clear that though Britain would be hit hardest, both sides stand to lose from a failure to agree a deal.”
The main areas of divergence remain the concept of a level-playing field, state aid, fisheries and the access to the single market for financial services.
The EU has remained steadfast it will not drop its standards on the level-playing field or fair competition.
After the talks today, Mr Barnier once again insisted there would be no deal without level-playing field conditions in any potential treaty including on state aid.
He said: “Our goal was to get negotiations successfully and quickly on a trajectory to reach an agreement.
“However, after four days of discussions, serious divergences remain.
“We will continue to insist on parallel progress on all areas.
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“The EU expects, in turn, its positions to be better understood and respected in order to reach an agreement.
“We need an equivalent engagement by the United Kingdom.”
While the EU has maintained Britain must adhere to fair competition, UK officials have insisted any adherence to the level-playing field would entangle Britain into European regulations.
Crucially, the UK has stated adhering to regulations would defeat the purpose of Brexit, Britain’s newfound sovereignty.
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Mr Barnier did add, however, that the UK’s red lines were now clear.
UK officials have insisted the European Court of Justice should have no role in in the UK.
There must also be no obligation to stick to EU laws and an agreement on fisheries which fulfils the UK’s right as an independent coastal nation.
Mr Frost said: “We have completed our discussion of the full range of issues in the negotiation in just over three days.
“Our talks were face-to-face for the first time since March and this has given extra depth and flexibility to our discussions.
“The negotiations have been comprehensive and useful.
“But they have also underlined the significant differences that still remain between us on a number of important issues.”
Since passing the deadline to extend the transition period, if a deal is not agreed by December 31, 2020, the UK will leave on World Trade Organisation terms.
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