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EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier launched a scathing attack on the UK for the lack of progress in post-Brexit trade talks following the seventh round of negotiations this week in Brussels. Mr Barnier took aim at the UK for continuing to reject a so-called level-playing field on trade and warned a deal now “seems unlikely” before the deadline.
David Frost, the UK chief Brexit negotiator David Frost, refused to budge on his red lines and urged the bloc to recognise Britain will take sovereign control of its laws, borders, and waters.
Speaking at a press conference following the latest round of fruitless talks, Mr Barnier said: “Why should we agree to the UK Government being able to create competitive distortions directed against our companies?
“The need for level playing field isn’t going to go away, even if UK continues to insist on a low quality agreement.
“It’s a non-negotiable pre-condition to grant access to our market.”
Mr Barnier added: “We hear the British Government’s concern about maintaining its sovereignty and its regulatory autonomy and we respect that clearly.
“But no international agreement was ever reached without the parties agreeing to common rules.
“Those who were hoping for negotiations to move swiftly forward this week will have been disappointed. I’m disappointed, concerned and surprised.
“Once again UK negotiators haven’t shown any real willingness to move forward on issues of fundamental importance to the EU.
“At this stage an agreement seems unlikely. I simply do not understand why we’re wasting valuable time.”
Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator said he believes a trade deal is still possible but acknowledged “there has been little progress”.
Mr Frost said the EU’s insistence on accepting its terms on state aid and fishing had made an agreement “unnecessarily difficult”.
In a statement, Mr Frost said: “The EU is still insisting not only that we must accept continuity with EU state aid and fisheries policy, but also that this must be agreed before any further substantive work can be done in any other area of the negotiation, including on legal texts.
“This makes it unnecessarily difficult to make progress.
“There are other significant areas which remain to be resolved and, even where there is a broad understanding between negotiators, there is a lot of detail to work through.
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“Time is short for both sides.”
Post-Brexit talks between the UK and EU are due to end in October in order to give both parliaments time to scrutinise any potential arrangement.
The Brexit transition period will formally end on December 31 after the UK rejected a request from the bloc earlier this summer for an extension.
Mr Frost and Mr Barnier will reconvene for the eighth round of Brexit talks in London on September 7.
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