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Barnier: Post-Brexit trade deal unlikely concluded this year

Barnier: Post-Brexit trade deal unlikely concluded this year

09.01.2020 From our online archive
EU negotiator says talks with UK could begin at the end of February at the earliest

The negotiations over the future relationship between the European Union and the U.K. are unlikely to be completed this year, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said on Thursday.

“The timetable ahead of us is extremely challenging,” Barnier said in a speech in Stockholm. “We simply cannot expect to agree on every single aspect of this new partnership in under a year.”

His comments come a day after U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that Britain won’t extend the country’s post-Brexit transition period beyond the end of the year.

Negotiations will therefore need to focus on the most important issues that can be solved before the end of 2020, Barnier said on Thursday. The Commission should be ready to propose a negotiating mandate to the union’s member states by Feb. 1, so that talks with the U.K. can start “at the end of February or the first days of March,” Barnier said.

The main priorities for the EU in the year ahead include building up “a new capacity that enables us to work together,” forming “a very close security relationship” and “an economic partnership based on a level playing field,” Barnier said.

“We will insist on a trade partnership with zero tariffs, zero quotas, but also zero dumping,” the former French government minister said. “We are ready to do our best, to do the maximum, in the 11 months.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.