Home News Brexit latest: Barnier willing to compromise on ‘level playing field’ demands

Brexit latest: Barnier willing to compromise on ‘level playing field’ demands

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The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said on Wednesday that weekly Brexit meetings could be a good idea going forward, Politico reports.

It comes as the fourth round of negotiations between the EU and the UK concluded last Friday.

Barnier said at the time that there had been “no real areas of progress” in the talks.

The two sides are currently deadlocked on a range of issues including a ‘level playing field’ and the governance of their future partnership.

Barnier has now signalled that he is willing to offer some flexibility on the EU’s level playing field demands and said that he would be prepared to review them, the Financial Times reports.

But the negotiator stated that the UK must “translate legally what is written in the political declaration,” the FT adds.

The political declaration was signed by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson last year, in which both sides agreed that “the future relationship must ensure open and fair competition, encompassing robust commitments to ensure a level playing field.”

It also states: “The Parties should in particular maintain a robust and comprehensive framework for competition and state aid control that prevents undue distortion of trade and competition”.

It’s is not currently clear what compromises Barnier would be willing to accept.

Barnier also appeared to be keen to speed up negotiations, adding that “we have very little time”.

READ: Gove promises ‘under no circumstances’ will UK delay Brexit

He added that the EU was willing to organise “more specific meetings” about certain issues that Britain is in favour of and that the EU cares about,” Politico reports.

There is around half a year left before the UK officially leaves the EU, raising concerns surrounding a no-deal scenario.

UK officials have previously said that Barnier does not have enough ‘wriggle room’ to secure a deal that both sides would be happy with, the FT reports.

However, following a private meeting between the Brexit negotiator and ambassadors from 27 EU nations on Wednesday, an EU official said there was “no appetite whatsoever to change the mandate”, the FT adds.

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Meanwhile Politico claims that Barnier has said the UK was “asking a lot more than Canada, Japan, or any other free trade partners”.

But the UK’s Brexit negotiator David Frost said last month in a strongly worded letter to Barnier that the EU was “not willing … to replicate provisions in previous FTAs.”

“For example, your proposals to us contain no provision for mutual recognition of conformity assessment,” Frost said, which the EU had apparently granted or proposed to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the US in the past.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to hold ‘high level’ talks with senior EU officials next week in order to give negotiations a much-needed push.

It’s understood that Johnson will hold the video meeting on Monday June 15 with European Council president Charles Michel, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, and European Parliament president Davis Sassoli.

Downing Street has also said that there would be a “new process” for negotiating a deal going forward.

It said in a statement that the new process would “involve a mix of formal negotiating rounds and smaller group meetings, both in London and Brussels, assuming public health guidelines enable this.”

Reuters reports that there will be talks every week in the five weeks between June 29 and July 27.



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