Brexit negotiations resumed in Brussels following weeks of virtual meetings on Monday after Boris Johnson and the top echelons of the European Union agreed to speed up talks. Both sides have long signalled an unwillingness to move from their red lines as issues like fishing and the so-called level playing field continue to create friction between the UK and the EU. But Portuguese MEP Pedro Silva Pereira warned there must be “concrete changes” in the UK’s position before Brussels agrees to a deal as he warned the UK “depends” on its trade links with the European Union.
Speaking to Euronews, Mr Silva Pereira said: “I think a no-deal scenario is there, it exists and it is dangerous for everybody, in particular for the UK economy.
“The UK depends very much on exports to the European market. What both parties should do is engage in the negotiations in a constructive manner and try to find a balanced agreement.”
The Portuguese MEP, who represents the Socialists&Democrats group in the European Parliament’s Brexit steering group, insisted Brussels is offering the UK an “unprecedented” agreement and he said compromise will have to be found to ensure a deal is in place before December.
He continued: “It’s very important to understand that the European Union is offering something simply unprecedented, which is a comprehensive free trade agreement with zero tariffs and zero quotas.
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“This simply does not exist, it is the first time ever. But for that to happen you have to ensure fair competition, to safeguard the integrity of the single market, you have to ensure a certain degree of common standards.
“I hope the UK Government understands this is also in their best interests to move in that direction.”
But some politicians in the UK have also demanded Brussels stand down from its hard stance, with European Research Group chairman Mark Francois warning “certain EU demands are simply not going to work”.
In a letter shared on social media on Monday, Mr Francois said: “I refer you to the Conservative Party’s 2019 Manifesto – which I and all my colleagues stood on late last year – which made clear to the British people that we would have ‘a new relationship based on free trade and friendly cooperation, not on the EU’s Treaties or EU laws.
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The latest cycle of talks began a day after it was announced the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost would replace Sir Mark Sedwill as the national security adviser.
Number 10 had indicated the post-Brexit trade deal should be largely concluded by the time Mr Frost takes up the new role at the end of August.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted earlier this month he wants talks with the EU to result in an agreement by the end of next month, but the UK and EU had admitted that the end of October is when an agreement needs to be concluded in order to ratify it this year.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We have been clear on a number of occasions that these talks shouldn’t drag and that we want and need them to concluded by the autumn.”