As Boris Johnson refuses to cave into EU demands, hardliners in Paris said the two sides should work to limit trade barriers after the UK’s transition from the bloc’s rules. Europe minister Clement Beaune, however, urged Brussels to stick to its guns in the wrangling over a free-trade agreement. Contemplating the impact of a no deal scenario, he said: “This does not prevent trade, but there are a number of barriers, such as customs duties.
“It is in our interest to limit friction, but we will not do so at the price of not respecting the rules.”
Mr Beaune is one of President Emmanuel Macron’s most influential advisers, and was recently promoted to the ministerial ranks after his work on the UK’s EU divorce talks.
“Things are not progressing very well,” Mr Beaune warned, echoing the bloc’s growing pessimism that the Brexit talks will collapse without a trade and security partnership.
“The United Kingdom wants to leave the European Union and should therefore no longer have access to the European market.
“We cannot have access to the European market without respecting the sanitary, environmental… rules of the community. The no deal is a risk.”
Talks over the future relationship pact have remained deadlocked as the EU refuses to budge on its demands for continued access to Britain’s fishing grounds and a regulatory level-playing field.
David Frost, the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, is hosting his EU counterpart Michel Barnier in London in an attempt to break the impasse.
The Tory peer will warn the Brussels bureaucrat to drastically change its approach to trade talks or face the prospect of a no deal scenario.
Lord Frost will say the bloc’s refusal to discuss wider elements of the free-trade agreement have inflamed tensions between the two sides.
During the pair’s meeting, Mr Frost will insist both sides must begin drafting a legal text if they are to meet the bloc’s October deadline for a deal to be concluded.
EU negotiators must also agree to start work on deciding joint fishing opportunities after the end of the transition period in December, he will add.
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“It’s true to say everything has got to be settled at the end… It seems strange with so little time left there is now a focus on the most difficult issues which everyone knows will not be settled, if settled at all, until the end.”
During the seventh round of negotiations in Brussels, Mr Barnier turned down the opportunity to discuss a “consolidated text” put forward by British officials.
The document focused on eliminating trade tariffs and quotas by piecing together areas, such as goods and services trade, where both sides largely agree.