The British government said on Sunday that it still wanted to conclude a post-Brexit trade agreement with the European Union (EU), despite negotiations stalled, while believing that the ball was “in the court” of the Europeans.
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“I still hope we get a deal,” Minister of State Michael Gove said on Sky News.
“I want an agreement, I really want to reach it, but for that, both parties have to compromise. This is not what the EU is doing at the moment ”, he added, believing that the Europeans did not seem“ serious ”in their desire to succeed.
Already sluggish, trade negotiations escalated on Thursday when the 27 in council demanded concessions from London, while saying they wanted to continue talks to reach a free trade agreement before next year, when the rules Europeans will cease to apply.
But London refused outright, conditioning the continuation of the talks on “a fundamental change of approach” on the part of the Europeans. A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson had stressed that, for the British, trade negotiations were “over”.
European chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his British counterpart, David Frost, are due to meet on Monday about the “format” of the talks, according to the European Commission.
“The ball is in his court,” insisted Michael Gove of the European negotiator. On the BBC, he repeated that the door to negotiations remained “ajar” if the EU did indeed change “its position”.
He himself will meet on Monday, in London, the Vice-President of the European Commission, Maros Sefcovic, on the implementation of the divorce treaty which framed the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU on January 31.
In the absence of a trade agreement allowing the United Kingdom to regain its full sovereignty, underlined Mr. Gove, his country would not hesitate to opt for a “no deal” at the 1er January, potentially devastating for economies already weakened by the pandemic, with the reinstatement of quotas and customs duties between the 27 and London.
Discussions still stumble on three subjects: access for Europeans to fish in British waters, the guarantees demanded in London in terms of competition and how to settle disputes in the future agreement.
Whatever the outcome of the negotiations, agreement or “no deal”, the British executive will urge, this week, companies to accelerate their preparations to face the new customs rules which will apply from January.
He plans to launch an information campaign under the slogan “Time is running out” in the coming days. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Michael Gove will meet with representatives from professional organizations and businesses on Tuesday.
“At the end of this year, we will be leaving the single European brand and customs union, and that means there will be both new challenges and new opportunities for businesses,” Mr. Gove said in a communicated. “Changes will come in just 75 days and time is running out for companies to act.”
In a statement, the European employers’ organization, BusinessEurope, called for the responsibility of negotiators to “find an agreement”, “the only way to avoid uncertainty and major disruption”.