The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator arrive for the eighth round of talks with his UK counterpart David Frost after Prime Minister Boris Johnson set a five-week deadline for trade talks to succeed in time for the transition’s end on December 31.The meeting comes after cables sent from the Brussels to EU capitals in the last few days reveal the bloc’s unease at Britain’s negotiating strategy.
Mr Barnier is said be “concerned” Mr Johnson is holding back on finding an agreement on fishing and state aid in order to achieve a last-minute “trade off”, according to The Guardian.
An EU Commission source said: “These points will not be easy to iron out with just a phone call between leaders.“It is leaving it too late.”Meanwhile the EU is also concerned Home Secretary Priti Patel will attempt to agree security assurances from member blocs away from Brexit negotiations after she invited five to a meeting in London on September 22.
The revelation comes after talks were put on a collision course over new Brexit legislation which has dismayed senior EU figures, who are concerned it could override key elements of the Withdrawal Agreement that sealed the UK’s departure from the bloc in January.
Meanwhile, Mr Frost said the two sides “can no longer afford to go over well-trodden ground” in the deadlocked talks, as he warned progress must be made this week to get an agreement in place for the end of the transition period.
Speaking on the eve of talks, Mr Frost said: “Today, I will sit down with Michel Barnier and drive home our clear message that we must make progress this week if we are to reach an agreement in time.
“We have now been talking for six months and can no longer afford to go over well-trodden ground.”We need to see more realism from the EU about our status as an independent country.”
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