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Negotiations between the EU-UK on post-Brexit trade continue

DULIN: As the Brexit trade talks decided to continue, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will meet in the coming days. Both leaders confirmed that there were strong differences of opinion between the two. However, it was agreed that efforts would be made to resolve it.

Earlier at one point, the chief negotiators had suspended the talks and decided that it was up to the political leaders to decide. It was in the following communication that it was decided to continue the mediation talks and to continue the discussions between the two leaders. Meanwhile, negotiators talks for the European Union and Britain continue in Brussels. Although negotiators and political leaders took part in the discussions, differences could not be resolved.

The UK Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission had a telephone conversation yesterday evening. The negotiators were then instructed to review the progress of the trade talks. The two leaders agreed to discuss the remaining differences directly in Brussels in the coming days.

Despite the concerns, the EU summit will take place on Thursday

The Brexit talks continue ahead of Thursday’s EU summit. The progress report or agreement will be presented to the leaders of the 27 member states. The Taoiseach will travel to Brussels on Wednesday evening to attend the summit. Any one of the leaders of the EU member states can veto a final trade deal.

Top sources say Britain’s reluctance to adopt a broad and cohesive arrangement is a violation of the sovereignty it gained after 47 years of EU membership.

Without the deal, tariffs will be in place for widespread trade between the UK and Europe from 2021. Passport delays will also affect trade. Travellers between both sides would also be affected with further passport delays and red tape for foreign residents and businesses.

Trade negotiations…

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and UK negotiator David Frost resumed talks in Brussels yesterday in the hope of reaching an agreement after eight months of intense efforts. Despite the possibility of a no-deal, the continuing trade talks between the EU and the UK are seen as a positive sign.

Prior to the talks, Barnier had interacted with ambassadors to EU countries. Details of the talk were shared with Frost overnight. Meanwhile, Boris and Ursula spoke on the phone and gave the green light to continue the negotiation talks. Both sides expect to start a trade relationship with zero tariffs and zero quotas from January 1 to avoid major disruptions.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said Barnier had indicated that the current situation was “very downbeat”. EU Commissioner Mairéad McGuinness also confirmed Coveney’s remarks. McGuinness added that she does not see the possibility of approving the deal. “I think the reason it’s not looking good is because the UK are failing to understand the significance of the three outstanding issues and the need for the UK to compromise,” she said.

In the meantime, there were reports that an agreement had been reached on fisheries, but it was later confirmed to be incorrect. However, neither side is giving up hope.

Taoiseach’s comments

Taoiseach Michael Martin has said it would be a major setback if the two sides did not reach a trade agreement. “The situation is serious and the issues are ones that have bedeviled the process from the beginning in terms of level playing field, in terms of fisheries and of course the dispute resolution mechanism to deal with the level playing field issues,” Martin said.

Overall I think it’s in the best interest of all concerned that a proper trade deal is agreed. Our respective economies across Europe and within the UK would suffer unnecessarily in my view in the event of a no-deal… I think it would be a significant failure if we were to end up with a no-deal,” he added.

Threat posed by the UK Internal Market Bill

Meanwhile, the House of Commons rejected Lord’s amendment to the Internal Market Bill. Yesterday’s vote rejected the removal of provisions contrary to the Northern Ireland protocol in the withdrawal agreement. The UK government said it expected this to happen.

The government had earlier said it would remove provisions in the bill relating to state aid if a trade agreement was not reached. The government also announced that Cabinet Minister Michael Gove would travel to Brussels to discuss issues related to post-Brexit Northern Ireland trade. Gove will discuss the issue with European Commission vice president Maroš Šefčovič. Both are co-chairs of the European Union-UK Joint Committee examining how the withdrawal agreement should be implemented, including the NII protocol.

Following these discussions, the UK government announced that it would be willing to remove or deactivate three controversial provisions from the UK Internal Market Bill. Section 44 of the UK Internal Market Bill will be removed in connection with exports. Sections 45 and 47 relating to state aid will also be repealed. In the light of these circumstances, it has been decided to review the contents of the forthcoming Tax Bill.

The House of Lords had voted to remove the controversial provisions. But the government had said the bill would be reinstated when it is resubmitted to the House of Commons. The EU has said in a statement that the agreement was a breach of trust and would hamper trade talks.

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