Changes to exit plans are already visible as the UK’s recent backtrack on full EU border checks. In January the UK government had committed to introducing import controls on EU goods entering the country.
However, plans have now reportedly been abandoned to make room for a more “pragmatic and flexible approach” due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Government sources told the BBC that ministers are recognising the impact that Covid-19 is having on businesses, therefore pragmatism and flexibility on imports made sense “to help business adjust to the changes” that are now present.
The UK left the European Union at the end of January this year but is currently in a transition period until the end of December during which trading rules still apply.
Speaking to the Express.co.uk, Nick Witney, Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, highlighted how both sides need to take a more flexible approach because there have been four rounds of negotiation with no strong signs of progress.
He said: “If we can’t find middle ground on fish in the UK, which is basically a numbers game, then it’s going to be even more difficult to get common ground on some of the other more difficult issues.”
The European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, was expected to present a proposal on access to British waters during talks in May but was blocked by member states with large fishing communities last minute.
Both sides confirmed earlier this month that no progress had been made towards a fisheries deal.
Mr Barnier said: “On fisheries we have very strong positions on both sides.
READ MORE: Brexit news: EU loses fight to delay UK’s Brexit transition
Both the UK and EU will reportedly decide, by the end of June, whether the transition period should be extended.
But the UK side has already said it will not agree to an extension even if the EU requests one.
In a tweet the EU Commission President Ursula von Leyen said: “After our meeting in London in January I now look forward to the High level Videoconference on Monday with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, alongside my colleagues European Parliament President David Sassoli and European Council President Charles Michel.”
Mr Witney explains how there may be an increased readiness from both sides not just to agree to carry on with talks but also agree to increase the pace of negotiations.
He said: “When this meeting was essentially put in the diary last year, the plan was to stock take halfway through the transition period and that was the point at which the decision should be taken ‘Are we going to get a deal at the end of the year or aren’t we?’”
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the UK and Europe could create a much different Brexit than was originally planned.
Mr Witney said: “The way the government comes out I think it nudges in the direction of saying ‘Look we better have a deal’.
“My feeling is that probably the coronavirus impact and the devastation that it is doing to our economy is going to strengthen the hand of those within the government who think ‘Well we better be a bit flexible’.”
A more flexible approach might deter from a no deal Brexit.
Mr Witney explained: “Both sides of the argument I think are more likely to work a little bit harder to try to find common ground because we are all suffering from this, particularly the economic damage.”